Wednesday, January 19, 2022

On Paper

Sunday night, when I was Skyping/Zooming/Line-ing with Mom, (what is the generic term for this The Jetsons' age telephony?) she casually commented, "So, you're not working." She meant I'm not weaving. It's been super hot these last few weeks and the orange warp is galling sitting in the middle of the living room, and I've been avoiding eye contact.
I was in the middle of showing Mom blind contours drawings. I've been doing something related to Sketchbookery almost every day, and have been "enjoying" it immensely. Let me explain why it's in quote marks.  
I genuinely enjoy Mary Ann's video tutorials. Her colors are uplifting. I like the looseness of her lines/shapes. I like the apparent ease with which she draws, and seemingly so lightheartedly. (Not sure if this is entirely true; after all she is a grade school teacher.) At night, before I go to sleep, I either gaze at images on Pinterest or Instagram, or read her blog. Mary Ann loves nature, cats, birds, flowers and trees, so there are lots of drawings of them, while I like man-made objects and indoor scenes; fear not, she's also traveled extensively so there''s plenty of old stone buildings and rented accommodations. I don't know if I've been stressed, (I don't think so,) or if it's for other reasons, but I can't help feeling her company is what I needed right now. She started blogging in 2007 so there are a fair few posts to go still. :-D 
What's not necessarily enjoyable has been the actual drawing; I'm struggling. I decided to go with things I like to see drawn, and would like to draw often just for fun. I chose small coffee cups. They can't be that difficult.
I did a bunch of blind contours and noticed the handles, and how they are attached to cups, are incomprehensible, especially handles not made of round ropes, not flat slabs. I'm not aiming for realistic/detailed 3D depictions in my final sketches, but without understanding how they are/work, I can't seem to get a handle on looser lines, never mind coloring them. So I drew more, looking at the paper more often, looking at the cups, but boy, the more I drew, the more I grew confused.     
I remembered Nephew #2, (now 21,) loved drawing, but he didn't know how, so Sister, who never drew, had to concoct examples for him to copy. (She occasionally rattled off animals she had to conjure most recently.) I manipulated photos and traced the outline, paying particular attention to the handles, of course, but this was less than satisfying; I didn't learn/see/discover anything, so I've taken more closeup shots to give it another go. 
Except today I didn't want to draw seriously, so I thought to draw and color some art supply, another subject I'd like to sketch often. I noticed, though, when I'm not doing blind or slow contours, I draw what I think I see, and not what I see. Case in point, the color samples attached to this set of watercolors; in real life, I can't see all of the squares on the row closer to me; it's cut off by the lip of the case. I was also gobsmacked how many lines were needed to depict all the edges that exist in this wee case. I'll investigate some more in future, but it's something I struggled with rounded cup handles. 
I tell you what, though, Mary Ann or no Mary Ann, I do enjoy looking at my drawings later, even the bad ones. I think it makes me better at visual problem solving. And if nothing else, I concentrate and do the best on the moment, and that's well-worth my time and energy. 
The online embroidery thingie I signed up for without knowing what it was turned out to be Stitch Club Stitch Camp led by Gwen Hedley on I can't find a webpage that explains it, but this is her. She seems very nice, but I'm watching the vids, taking notes, and saving tutorial PDFs but not doing a project now; I want to concentrate on Sketchbookery, but more than that, the style/material she's using for the vids, and what others are sharing in the FB group, are the more-is-more-and-never-enough school, and not my thing. There is good emphasis on trusting-the-process, though, and one never knows when the knowledge will come in handy. 

Tonight is hot. Ben said we're not having dinner, not even a salad. I'm thinking, ice cream.

Friday, January 14, 2022


As I mentioned in the last post, Ben went back to work-work on Tuesday, and I've been trying to get back to, or establish a new, non-Plague pattern of life. To dig myself out of Plague/housewife mode I had to physically extricate myself from the kitchen on Tue/Wed and I actually felt sad to leave. I hadn't realized housework gave me relief from having to think, (as in deliberate/project-thinking), and still be productive. I have a bunch of low-intensity and/or short-to-mid-term projects, including finishing projects:

* Yet-Unnamed and related Summer & Winter piece/s: with a little over a month to finish weaving, submitting it/them in local exhibition/s is now low priority. But I'm definitely interested in recreating the Old Wallpaper look and make something with it. I had so few lifting ideas, so after a few weeks of doing nothing, I took off the second sample, 40EPI, in late December and washed. It's still too tight, so I resleyed at 32EPI, but math told me I can get 36EPI by threading 4-5-4-5-4-5 of 20/2 plus paired 60/2 in the 6-dent reed, so I haven't resumed sampling. Current plan is to sample a short length of 32EPI anyway, then resley and sample 36EPI. Also I think the next sample warp may be in duller colors to enhance the feel of old wallpapers. 
As well, I shall finish weaving Sunflower II really soon, be it as a scarf or more samples, just to get back in the swing of lightheartedness. The orange warp is interesting, depending on my mood, but intense and not relaxing or "nice" at the moment.  
* Revisit the Purple warp and finally decide whether to weave on, or abandon. 
* Review and rethink the Syrie project by going back to the interim summary blog post I was working on in February 2020 just before the Plague. No need to pick up where I dropped off, or to the origin of the idea, necessarily, to continue.
On Paper: I would like one or two low-keyed projects going at all times, be they on my own or otherwise. I miss them; I like the simple happiness I feel when I "succeed", which is different from succeeding in weaving; the process is less technical and more organic/intuitive than how I approach weaving, and I'm easier to please on paper.

* Letter Journals: I'm back with low-pressure friends with whom I've had successful swaps. I sometimes remember working on specific processes/pages/spreads out of the blue, and I get to relieve the gratification of good problem-solving.  
* I'm picking up where I left off with the Sketchbook Project.
* I signed up for Mary Ann Moss's Sketchbookery tutorial; it's something I thought about many times, and finally went for it. My goal for this is to bring back lightheartedness, but it's also another way of thinking/not-thinking visual problem solving. It's also reassuring some of her instructions are familiar from figure/life drawing days, and I can jump right into it, e.g. blind contours. I had no problem not looking, or automatically switching to negative spaces. A curious problem is, the longer I drew, the more I cheated, i.e. peeking while blind-contours. These are modified blind contours of Mom's handle-less Shigaraki teapot. 
Also re-familiarizing myself with my watercolor and guache supply; she makes us go right into using them. I did some of this on the kitchen table, but after putting them away, I couldn't stop, and kept going on the stash room carpet. 
* I signed up for some kind of a short-term embroidery online thingie, details for which I'm not searching. I think it starts next week, and I want to go into it without prejudice. 
* Garden. It's like weight loss, but marginally/momentarily better. 
* Reading. My 2022 resolution is not to stop reading a book just because another book looks shinier, although it's OK to abandon if it's not worth my energy, or to pick up a cookbook and read alongside current. So far so good, the current book is 7/10 interesting.

These are items higher on the list. I also have unfinished sewing, dye, and possibly one knitting, projects which I will finish "soon". Finishing several woven pieces and reworking my online shop is another. And if ever I find needlepoint yarns, or something similar I can substitute, with a wide variety in the same hues, in person, I would most definitely start a few projects. I miss needlepoint so much. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 21

Day 14+7+86+34, January 5. 17 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 23 cases at the border, but genomic sequencing is not finished. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. Anyone over 18 years old who received the second jab at least four months ago can receive their booster from today at walk-in centers, or phone in to book, or book online after January 17; that's the day we become eligible, but also 5-11-year-old become eligible for jabs, so expect something of a jab jam. And I still haven't read anything about ventilation, though a few weeks ago I read mention of filtration, once. And home testing is still some distance away. 
EDIT: Thanks to UK Twittering health folks, the next morning I found this.
Today started hot but quickly turned cooler, which was a blessing because I've been loosing the plot, even though today's workload was a third of the last five days. Every year, I get excited about a clean kitchen, imagine cooking this and that, and hope to reboot a healthy lifestyle. But this year, I'm just grumpy... We have so much stuff. Still, tomorrow, Ben and I will finish the saga. 
Ben also started working on his next project, repainting the picnic table I painted in 2009, not with the same color but close, because I bought the wrong one. The first coast is on white primer so it's looking light, but we hope after the second it'll look more saturated. 
And this is what Ben did yesterday; he found plenty of the yellow primer from when we had the house painted last century, so he gave two coats on the sides of the stairs to our patio/front door. There is quite a bit of retaining wall to the right so we don't know if we're going that far, (it would make our place incredibly yellow,) but sometime soonish we'll get the top coat to go over the primed bits. These steps are dark, so it's also practical.   
Day 14+7+86+35, January 6. 19 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island; all 23 Nelson cases have recovered, even though short of links to North Island cases, the origin was never reported. 43 cases at the border; Omicron genomic sequencing to come, although these days they expect most/all are that. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. Since boosters became generally available yesterday, there have been increase in people getting first and second shots, also. What. Eva.
Today started with lovely rain. We had our first cooked late brunch (and attempted sugar overload) of 2022: Ben's almond and wheat flour pancakes, bacon, seared bananas, and seared extremely local plums, on a plate made by local artisan, with extremely locally roasted coffee. I washed the dishes afterwards, but we were so tired we didn't even talk much. It was easy deciding to postpone going to the store for a container and an extension cord needed in the kitchen. We didn't even think to watch a film, listen to an audiobook, or even read. I paced the house looking at all the unfinished business at one point. 
I did manage to iron, because today was supposed to be the one cool day before the return of the heatwave, although looking at the forecast now, maybe not. Ben cleaned up an old, old paella pan we use all the time, especially for salmon; it had a couple of decades of accumulated caked-on built-up black stuff, but he took it all off and we can see the original paella pan and it's in a great shape.
Three more days of Ben's holiday left; he's going back to work at work on Monday after 145 days, except for the few hours on Friday in December. Weird.
Day 14+7+86+36, January 7. 35 Delta community cases on the North Island, none on the South Island. 24 cases at the border; there is no mention of genomic sequencing or Omicron any more. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. Following Christmas Day and New Year's Day, there is to be no update tomorrow, either. Our traffic light system was based on two jab requirement; now that boosters are available and Omicron has arrived, the government is yet to announce any rules or policy adjustments. In fact, we've seen very little of public officials, not that I've been looking for them. 

Today, we finished the kitchen. I did most of it, but Ben helped wiping down the high bits. Ben, though, since New Year's Eve day, finished two and a half big jobs and two and a half little jobs. This is probably the most productive we've been in years. 

Because Ben loves to have coffee or lunch outside, we brought the purple picnic table just outside the kitchen. Now he can have coffee either here, or just outside the front door. I wished we thought of this last summer, when we planned to do these projects in the first place, because Ben would have been able to work from out here. 
It's a little strange for us not to have the table set parallel/perpendicular to another straight line, but this way, we can sit next to each other and look out towards the water. It wasn't this industrial-looking when we bought the house 25 years minus three weeks ago, but there is water there. And when the grapes and apples are gone, we'll have a clearer view. It looks like rain may be coming back. 
Ben'd been spending a lot of time in his office looking at his computer while waiting for the paint or oil to dry. A lot. I nearly said something, but he was doing what I asked, so I held back. It turned out he was working some of the time, enough hours so he has Monday off, too. Yippy!! 
Day 14+7+86+37, January 8. No updates today, but two cases found in Wellington from a music festival in Tauranga. We ran errands, tied loose ends of the tasks we finished, and went food shopping. It's hard not to overdo veg and fruits this time of year.
Day 14+7+86+38, January 9. 85 Delta community cases in the last two days on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 64 cases at the border; no coverage of Omicron. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. 
Slow day where I washed/cut/manipulated so much veg we need another fridge, and Ben went around touching up projects he finished this summer. The outer leaves of the red cabbage are too tough to eat raw, (we used the inner leaves for coleslaw,) but don't they make you think of Beatrix Potter paintings?
I'm also happy to report purple cauliflowers retain a lot of blue pigments after parboil, (more saturated purple than in the pic,) unlike the cute beans and carrots I grew some years ago which turned all pale. 
Day 14+7+86+39, January 10. 27 Delta community cases on the North Island, including Wellington,  none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 33 cases at the border; no specific coverage of Omicron. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed.
A few Queenstown attractions are locations of interest. The big shot Auckland Anti-Vax guy preached in Christchurch. Our government is sounding more and more like other governments, being fine with Covid/Omicron in the community. I've been reading scary articles about the effect of Covid, especially Omicron, on diabetics, and also the increase in (identifying?) childhood diabetes. 

My diabetic husband goes back to work-work tomorrow in this brave new world. I couldn't imagine being a parent.  

Today was another-tying-up-loose-ends day for me; Ben smoked salmon; if you knew him in the 80s, you'd know how funny that last bit sounds.
Day 14+7+86+40, January 11. 14 Delta community cases on the North Island, including Wellington, (linked to a north Auckland festival,) none in Nelson, but two in Canterbury to be included in tomorrow's numbers. 9 cases at the border; no info on Omicron. 78% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. 
After 146 days at home, Ben went back to work-work this morning, ending our third "lockdown", and so Season 3 of Plague Diary. 
The government has not clarified how many Omicron cases have been found at the border for some time, but expect most/all positive cases to be that. Government ministers and high-ranking officials have been on holiday, I assume, as they have not been visible; Jacinda is rumored to be getting married at an American hedge fund family's holiday place at the end of the month near Gisbourne, and has not been seen in weeks. If you are to believe the MSM, the government wants us to prepare for mass spreading of Omicron in the community, as our health systems are "well-placed" for it. Good on scientists who continue to appear and write how they think we should face Omicron in the meantime. 
Anti-vax/anti-lockdown propaganda continue to present problems, although big name activist continue to act with impunity, and Nelson is one hotbed. The American doctor specializing in weight-loss who sold vaccination exemption certificate for $80 in Kaiapoi had her license taken away, but has moved on to making chocolates. I'm not advertising the brand name. 
Lastly, my favorite place in town, Volume book store, decided to go online-only. I can't blame them; the store is tiny; even before vaccination and anti-vaxers, some folks were offended by distancing or scanning; and the shop does well online. But loosing a place to accidentally discover hitherto unknown authors or beautifully produced books is a big loss. For now, I must try to get my head out of lockdown/housewife mode and into "making" mode, with the occasional, until it gets cooler, weeding and such outdoor pursuits. And the occasional, "OMG, look what's happening in Aotearoa" posts. And food pics. Maybe "I made this" pics.
Thank you for tagging along with us for 147 days. Be well, you and yours, take care; this thing is not over yet.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 20

Day 14+7+86+27, December 29. 46 in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Rotorua, Tairawhiti, and Canterbury, (linked to a previous case.) 0 in Nelson. Re. Omicron, the media, or the Ministry, used a weird expression today: total Omicon cases are 71 today, up from yesterday's 49 ( or 54 (radionz). 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. 
We went to a couple of stores to get what's needed for more of our projects; I've now been to four stores I believe should have asked for my vax pass that didn't. But tonight...
An Omicron case was out and about in Auckland on December 26 and 27, visiting bars, restaurants, and a shopping area. There will be an announcement regarding this at 11AM tomorrow, but from what I read so far: 
* The person, fully vaccinated, not a New Zealand citizen, arrived from the UK via Doha on December 16.
* Current NZ rules are for all arrivals to stay at managed isolation for seven days, (during which time this person tested negative three times,) and in self isolation for three days. The case tested positive on Day Nine, which would be December 25. Nobody else on the same "flight" (singular, so presumably Doha-Auckland) tested positive.
* The person was notified on December 27 and brought to managed isolation on the same day. Whole genome sequencing was done on the same day, clarifying it was Omicron. 
* The government had earlier changed the rules to extend the initial managed isolation to ten days starting December 23. 
* The Ministry does not believe the person was highly infectious at the time. 
So... Good luck to us.
Day 14+7+86+28, December 30. 60 in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairawhiti, Canterbury, (linked to a known case;) 0 in Nelson. Omicron cases, 6 new, 54 in all, one case announced released. 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. 
Aotearoa's first "community" Omicron mentioned yesterday turned out to be a UK DJ who came to take part in a New Year's Eve concert. He stayed self-isolated until his tenth day, but the government said he broke the rule because he did not wait until he received the result of Day Nine test, (on Day Twelve;) this was his third trip in a year, so he should have known. His case is not genomically linked to any known cases here. 
There is another Omicron case who was in the community, an Air NZ crew who returned from Sydney on December 24. This case was identified during "routine surveillance" on December 27, (flight crews have different rules,) linked to three other cases on the same flight, and is now in managed isolation. No info on when/where they were. And at midnight tonight, all but Northland will move to Code Orange. 
Today Ben worked some more on the outside table, and touched up orange chairs he painted last year. I cleaned the fridge and the dinner set on the shelf above the fridge. When I broke up this year's kitchen cleaning tasks into five parts, I thought I could do almost any two in one day, and Ben can keep sprucing up our outdoor furniture. Wrong! I almost didn't get to the freezer. Amazing to think Ben and I used to clean the whole kitchen in one day every year, years ago. 

I like fridge magnets, but fridges, I prefer naked. I predict negotiations coming up.
Day 14+7+86+29, December 31. 49 Delta community cases in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Hawkes Bay; 0 in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. Omicron cases, 10 new at the border, 88 in all, and so far no community transmission. No locations of interest for the Air NZ crew. The Ministry now assumes all border cases will be Omicron and will prioritized sequencing these. 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. No updates tomorrow.

Insomnia has been out of control for weeks, but one benefit is I managed to read during the quiet hours. I've been trying to read more printed books, but found it hard to stick with them. Earlier in the month, I cleaned out boxes under the bed that housed all the books I started this year but hadn't finished; there might have been three dozens. Except young adult novels; I love them, they are inexpensive, quick, plot-driven, authors don't lie or trick you, and there are always likable characters I can cheer for. The picture shows all printed books I managed to finish reading this year, (yeah, dismal,) excluding two I borrowed, also for young folks.
What's with all the Nigellas, you ask? Well, I read cookbooks cover to cover as reading material; I have many I read but never cooked from. But if I can find the ingredients, (not always possible in little old Nelson,) I can manage the "complexity" of Nigella's everyday recipes, (i.e. they are not difficult,) and so I've cooked quite a lot from her first two books. Ben's found a couple of used ones for good prices in subsequent years, but around the time we went into lockdown, he decided to get me all the ones I wanted. Because when I read Nigella, I cook Nigella, and she has a lot of chicken dishes, Ben's favorite, so we had a whole lot of new chicken dishes during lockdown and since, one most definitely a regular item now. Reading Nigella is an on-going project; we bought her books in order they were published, and I'm reading them in that order, of course, so I have a few to go before we look for her latest she wrote during her solo lockdown. I hear that's supposed to be a bit of a game changer, although it might just be a promo thing. 

I also finished maybe 15 audiobooks; the experience is interesting because sometimes I just listen to the voices like they are singing and nothing of the story stays with me except maybe a vague impression; other times, I take in so much it's almost as if I experienced it.  

So in the coming year I have a promise to myself, resolution if you like; I'll try to finish a book before moving on to the next shiny one. That is not to say I'll finish come hell or high water; Ben said about 20 years ago I'm wasting my life reading books I don't like and I don't owe anyone anything. I used to take it so seriously back then, finishing, and it was a revelation I was allowed to move on. I might even tell you about some. 

And with that, let's hope for a quiet, little more predictable year next year; see you on the other side. 
Day 14+7+86+30, January 1, 2022. Well, hello! No Ministry updates today. I decided to take an online sketching course a while ago, but I wanted to start it today. (We're allowed to access the material for one year from the day of registration.) I feel great about the course, and about the year; how can I not when I opened the landing page to see I'm drinking water from the same glass as the teacher? 
And drinking water I did. I woke up with a lower back pain yesterday, and as usual I stretched several times, but it didn't work well. At 2.30AM, while reading about witches and pilots, I thought kidney stones. I should have rung the 24-hour 0800 health number then, but I waited until 11 this morning; the nurse (?) agreed it sounded like kidney stones; recommended I take a pain killer if I needed one; agreed I don't have to go to the hospital unless it worsened; said I wouldn't want to go near there on New Year's Day if I didn't have to. The Internet told me to drink 2l of water, preferably with lemon juice, so I did. 2.5l of it. And it was better by bedtime. Kitchen cleaning was slower with change of plan, but I kept at it.  
Day 14+7+86+31, January 2. 105 Delta community cases in the last two days on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 33 cases at the border; Omicron 2 new, 90 in all, and so far no community transmission. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed.  

Ben finished treating the coffee-roasting table and touching up the orange chairs. I kept working in the kitchen, slower because it's been so hot, but progressing. I managed a little less than 1.5l lime water. Ben evacuated the pumpkin on top of finished weaving, next to the ironing pile, but no ironing happening in the foreseeable future.
Day 14+7+86+32, January 3. 27 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 24 cases at the border; Omicron 0 new, 90 in all, and so far no community transmission. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. They'll have to start adding the boosted numbers, don't you think?
So hot, so humid, today was disgusting from the moment I woke up. But kitchen looking like this for days, I had to keep going. (The last couple of evenings we had sandwiches made with deli meat, salad leaves in bags, and supermarket rye bread, but they're all gone.) 
Because we don't have a lovely purpose-built pantry like many Kiwi kitchens, part of this year's "cleaning" is amalgamating "pantry space" within our cupboards in this post-lockdown living-with-Covid era. We went to the hardware store to buy fancy build-to-measure shelving we planned to get 12 years ago, but after an hour of looking for the right sizes and negotiating configuration, I remembered the back/far wall of the cupboard is a flimsy board and can't support the heavy setup. So we came home with a cheap flat pack. It's not great, but we got rid of the temporary plastic trolley we bought for our Auckland rental that's been disintegrating for a couple of years.
I broke this year's kitchen cleaning schedule into five daily bits, but I'm not sure if I'll be done tomorrow. "Reducing" isn't going great, but magically the dishes and glasses aren't as crammed on shelves as we think they used to be, so we're good. I haven't reached 1l of lime water yet today, but also, I almost forgot I had a lower back problem; kidney stones don't pass this quickly, do they?
Day 14+7+86+33, January 4. 31 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 29 cases at the border; new Omicron genome sequencing has not come out yet, 90 in all; a family member of the Air NZ crew tested positive and was relocated to Managed Isolation. The UK DJ will not be charged as the police, as has been their usual MO, worry charging him may discourage future cases from cooperating with the health authorities. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed.
Today was not as hot or humid as yesterday, but for most of the day I scrubbed pots and baking dishes, so I was just $@#)^&(%!* hot. And I need a couple of more days. One reason the kitchen is taking longer in recent years has to be we have. more. stuff. We gave most of our delicate Japanese ceramics to charity a few years ago, (too delicate for us and our current life,) and that freed up some space, but we still have too. much. stuff. This afternoon, I added four items in the charity box, but took one out because Ben makes souffle in it, and we have nothing similar. So, yeah...

Ben took a wee detour with his projects, and finished a quick one, but one that packed a punch, making a tiny part of our place look very cheerful. I'll show you tomorrow. And I just found this on his office floor. We're exhausted tonight. 


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 19

Day 14+7+86+20, December 22. 56 Delta cases in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Lakes, and Hutt Valley, near Wellington, linked to the Lakes case. Not even Nelson paper mentions Nelson's Covid these days so the "latest" numbers stay at 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital. None in the rest of the South Island. Omicron: 6 new, total 28, one released. 76% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. 

I'm going to take a break from Covid news tonight because, goodness, there is a lot. Except to tell you, in case you were worried, the twice-negative-tested person with a child voluntarily returned to the Managed Isolation facility. Both parent and child were tested upon return. And did you see? Sweden has microchips that can be embedded under human skin to be used as vax passes.
Today I made cookie cutter cookies for the first time in... 45 years. And I remembered I was always bad at this. On top of that, today was another super hot day, and I didn't get started early enough; and on top of that, the counter where I cut the cookies is right next to oven. And my red silicone baking sheets are so warped, they are not suitable for these guys. But these taste great, so that's a relief. It has lime peels in it, and smells dreamy, but if I were to make these again, I'll chop the peels smaller. 
The plan was to make icing with either lime juice or diluted orange flower water, but I don't know, are these guys worth icing? They are also rather sweet without the icing. And I don't remember these being so time-consuming.  
Day 14+7+86+21 December 23. 56 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Taranaki, and Tairawhiti. Nelson and the rest of the South Island: nada. Omicron cases, all at the border, 3; total 31, one case released. 76% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed.
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board recommends we keep a Covid kit of food and hygiene products at home, or while travelling, so there is no panic in case we need testing. (After testing we are prohibited from leaving home or accommodation until we get results.) The kit suggestion includes lemons - no explanation. :-D Although Bloomfield repeats often that testing is free, apparently this is not always true; e.g. an asymptomatic close contact may be required to pay $140, but may be refunded if the result is positive. I think the message is, ring the 0800 number first and see if they tell you to get tested.      
Today was so, so hot and sunny, but we went into town because Ben was expecting a bill in the PO Box, and as long as he was going, I wanted to pick up a few things so I can finish some project, as well as a few exotic ingredients in case we get inspired to cook something a little out of the ordinary. 
There is a good reason we usually stay home between, oh, the 20th and Christmas Eve. We have been known to loiter late on Christmas Eve in supermarkets, but days leading up to Christmas, no! The road and parking lots are busy, people are in a hurry, and, well, you get the picture. We made it to the craft store, the PO Box, two specialist food stores, two supermarkets, and the petrol station, but we skipped the rest. 
For a few years, I've given plants I propagated to close friends, and delivering them on Christmas Eve became Ben and my ritual. Some years I decorated the pots, other years I did something or rather with cards or ribbons. Usually, it didn't involve any elaborate plans. 
This year, Option One barely survived; Option Two didn't look as good as I expected, and Option Three finally started to grow in the last few days, but are still a little too little. I was in mini panic this afternoon, but hey, it's been an unusual year, so why not prepare something nice and deliver them whenever the plants are ready, right? 
And remember the tiny chocolates I was going to give the milkie and courier folks? I didn't get my act together there, either, so the chocs are still sitting in the living room. Well, I'll make up to them in good time, also. 

Tomorrow, there is a bit of cooking to do. I'd better get up early so I can use the oven before it gets too hot.
Day 14+7+86+22, December 24. 62 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, and one case in Christchurch, someone who travelled from Auckland on Monday. Nelson Mail hasn't had a Covid numbers article in several days, but Ben says the Ministry website says we have nine active cases. One death in hospital in Auckland; 50th in Aotearoa NZ. New Omicron cases, 7; total 38 cases. (Did this jump while I looked away for a couple of days?) 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed.
A screening of the new Spider Man film in Rotorua is among the new locations of interest. An unvaxed Belfast doctor practicing near Rotorua had a shipment of Ivermectin for his patients confiscated by Medsafe, our medical regulatory body. Sadly, his was among 905 referred to Medsafe this year, compared to 13 last year.
If tonight is a special night for you and yours, I wish you a peaceful night. If it's another Friday, have a relaxing weekend. 
Day 14+7+86+23, December 25. There were no updates from the government today, and no reading. We spent a lovely afternoon/evening with friends including some young folks. I didn't take any pictures; I was too busy talking and listening and eating. And taking a tour on a properly loved Kiwi garden with so much veg and fruit trees. Oh, my, the fruit trees! 
This is ours, though. We tasted one this morning, just a little too early.
Day 14+7+86+24, December 26. Today's numbers are for the last two days. 126 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Waikato, Northland. None in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. New Omicron cases 7 new, 45 total, one case released. 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. And of course there is very little press activity. 
Yesterday I thought friends had a new outdoor table, but in fact Mother and Son had given it a good spa treatment. So today Ben got working on his outdoor coffee bean roasting table/courier pickup/drop off point. After reading the fine print, it transpired he has to leave it for a fortnight after applying this agent, but weather being dry and slightly windy, we might cheat and oil after a week's wait.
Day 14+7+86+25 December 27. 34 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, and Canterbury, South Island, linked to a previous case. None in Nelson. No surprises in wastewater anywhere. Omicron cases, all at the border, 4 new; 49 total identified; one case released. (I bet there are more by now.) 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed.
Ben started working on the table early, and told me it's hot and humid, with only the occasional cool breeze. He didn't think I'd last long outside, (I was planning to move bulbs out of clay pots and herbs growing in ice cream containers in them,) and suggested I weave. With Christmas finished, we're practically in January, and I'm falling way behind in the project if I am to weave what I had in mind in November, a project that takes nearly a week just to thread. 
I cut off another sample yesterday and washed, but I'm still not happy with the sett, so I chastely rethreaded this afternoon. Tonight, though, as I checked the math, it needs rethreading, again. The project is, what's that expression, loosing its shine, so I'm in head-down-bum-up mode, and much remains undecided.
Day 14+7+86+26, December 28. 18 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua; 0 in Nelson or the rest of the South Island, but a new location of interest in Canterbury. One death in hospital. The low case numbers do not necessarily reflect few cases, but fewer people getting tested, and fewer test centers remaining open this time of year. There are 1334 active Delta cases. Omicron cases, all at the border, 5 new, 54 in all, one case announced released. 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. 

It was the same last year. I didn't have a problem knowing the days of the week even though Ben was home every day, thanks to our home milk delivery. It's the years I'm confused about. I remember having to rush home to Japan for the month of August 2019 to clean out Mom's apartment after she suddenly went into care. And looking back, what good timing for her to move, because not six months later, Diamond Princess full of Covid cases arrived at the port of Yokohama, my home town.

In Aotearoa NZ, we went into Level 4 lockdown the first time on March 26, 2020, and came out to Level 1 on June 9, 2020, which allowed us to get back to near-Pre-Covid normal within the nation's borders. For those of us outside Auckland and Wellington, this continued until August 18, 2021 when we went into two weeks of Level 4, a week of Level 3, interminable Level 2, and now this traffic light system akin to Level 1.5 with whatever rules you like, up to you. 

Late last year, I couldn't remember much about the year 2020, as if the whole year was washed out, but 2019 clearly. These last few weeks I kept thinking we're at the end of 2022; 2019 and 2020 are all mixed up, and 2021 has been erased from my consciousness. Confused? So am I. 

We had rain today, bringing lovely cool air; I read most of the day.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 18

Day 14+7+86+13, December 15. 74 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, and one in Canterbury. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital. One death in Tauranga. A Taranaki town has an outbreak in a primary school, so unvaxed and non-scanning littlies. I'm not the praying type, but I hope they don't have to isolate during the holidays. Aucklanders are free to travel either with a vax pass or negative test 72 hours prior to being checked; on the road, though, checking is random, depending on the traffic, etc. 75% of population and 89% over 12 double-jabbed.  
Parliament broke for the summer; daily reporting from the Ministry will change a little; there will be no numbers published on December 25, January 1 and 8, but otherwise check their website, or... Twitter. Again, I worry about oldies without access or knowledge, not so much because oldies are necessarily tech-ignorant, but because I've got one foot in that group now.

While Nelson-Marlborough health district, (which includes Tasman,) is 1905 shots shy of 90% of over 12 being double-jabbed, a testing center in Richmond was closed due to abuse staff suffered from anti peeps, as the threats became increasing personal. I'll just leave it at that. 
The second care package awaiting us at the PO Box on Monday was loot from my sister's short trip to Kyoto. Well-deserved after taking a break from volunteering at a vax center. She was always the one who did things, as opposed to Dad, Mom, Bro and I shouting and criticizing since the ye olde pre-keybord era. No wonder she thought - wished? - she was adopted, except for her resemblance to Dad's side. 
There were more in the pack, but she noted these masks are just for show and not to wear in crowded places. Having had long discussions on mask types and prices just recently, I told her we'll wear them on top of proper ones, which defeats the purpose of Japanese gauze masks which are soft and lovely on the face, but needs must. 
Later, I asked a young checkout guy at the supermarket, if we forget masks, could we buy them at the entrance of the store, not boxes in the aisles but just to wear in the store, and he said they are 50c each at Customer Service. Then he told me they used to hand them out free of charge, but staff noticed customers "collecting" them, including to wear in the bar across the street. He saw a guy come in,  ask for one, swore when told there is a cost, walk out, get out his own from his car, and proceed to the bar.
Day 14+7+86+14, December 16. Newsy day. 91 new cases in the last 15 hours due to changes in reporting time frame; Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taupo/Lakes, Taranaki. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital. Nobody else seems bothered any more that we still don't know how it reached Nelson. 
None in the rest of the South Island, but a border case from Germany via Dubai quarantining in Christchurch became our first Omicron case. This person arrived on Deceber 10, was tested on Day 1, and result came out on Day2, December 12. They were double-jabbed. Bloomfield says our quarantine system is well-set up to prevent spreading Omicron, and folks are not to come out of their rooms until Day 1 test results were known, but these folk were crammed in an airplane for, what, half a day? He must not read the articles I do, where in Europe 80% and 90% of folks in small and large gatherings are getting Omicron, albeit with less severe symptoms... Gisbourne, meanwhile, is still producing positive wastewater test results. We've now had 10,054 cases in this community Delta outbreak. 

Nelson is among five locations in the country where a fancy new "PCR analyser called Panther Fusion" has been installed. This cuts testing time to 24-48 hours, and smaller centers like we don't have to send specimens away when testing gets busy, not only for Covid, but flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and some STD. Good news ahead of influx of summer tourist, says the Panther project manager. :-D (I changed the order of the sentences in the article, because if you don't laugh...)
76% of population and 90% over 12 double-jabbed. Yay, 90%! But Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman is still at 88.6-88.8% depending on the website, or 1527 shots shy, between 9th and 11th place of the 20 District Health Boards. Vax for 5-11-year olds were provisionally approved; 2 doses, 21 days apart. Cabinet must approve next, so roll out will start late January 2022, just before the school year starts. 

Although Parliament finished for the year yesterday, there was another anti protest in Wellington, organized by the usual cohorts, disrupting bus schedules. 

Today I finished culling/tidying/reorganizing my art supplies, something I put off for a couple of years. The main aim was to free up more space for weaving. I used to keep art supplies in half a dozen cardboard boxes by category: acrylic, watercolor/gouache, print-making, dry drawing material, etc. When I worked, usually in the kitchen, I only needed to bring one box and maybe just a few other supplies. I wanted to put everything in one biggish plastic box, which is a physical impossibility, and in the end I managed to get rid of just one box but in a somewhat less organized way. It felt like tidying for the sake of tidying, so unsatisfying...
Still, it was worth sorting all the papers, (plenty for watercolor/gouache, in different weight and sizes;) getting rid of a whole host of stale collage material, and going through a box of "Not sure how to proceed" projects. 
Above is a small book I started in an Seth Apter workshop in Australia in 2014. It's about my Dad, and on the cover is the main office building of the university where he taught, and somewhere on the second floor is the window of his vice chancellor office, his last job before retirement. At the workshop I thought it was small enough project I could finish quickly, I could not only 15 months after he died. The pages are covered in sticky acrylic in spite of leaving it dry all that winter, but I might work on it this summer.
Day 14+7+86+15, December 17. 76 community cases in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taranaki. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital; 0 in the rest of the South Island. 76% of population and 90% over 12 double-jabbed. Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman is 1183 doses away from 90% qualifieds double-jab. 
In the last couple of days the number of Covid-related articles increased dramatically. I wonder if it has to do with the press getting a few final pieces out before closing down for the year. I've managed to read about a quarter of today's pieces, and haven't even started on Omicron coverage, but then hoping some issues will resolve/progress in the next couple of days, here are the first few that caught my blurry eye.
We have now have had 10,129 cases in the Delta community outbreak; 12,947 (community?) cases since the start of the pandemic; and 49 deaths. A boy under age 10 died in hospital (today?), and tested positive after death; it is not clear if he died of Covid, or for another reason, or was infected after death, but he was a contact of a known case and our youngest loss. Gisbourne wastewater tested negative after six positive results, but neighbouring Napier tested positive, possibly relating to a historic case. There were verbal confrontations at Wellington Airport between unmasked would-be passengers dressed as nuns and priests, (at least a couple with exemptions,) and masked, dressed-as-themselves passengers. Jetstar staff said it's a police matter, while police called to the scene said, "What can we do?" Jetstar also only spotchecks for vax passes. And in AotearoaNZ, there is still no discussion of ventilation.

Today Ben finished work for the year. He went into the office for the first time in 17 and a half weeks; put in a couple of hours from his desk; said hi to everybody; and good-bye to a colleague who resigned. Short of drastic changes/events, (still possible,) he'll resume working at work in the new year. And his work place will require all staff and students get vaxed, like most tertiary institutions in the country. 
Meanwhile I ran errands for a couple of hours. Now, my understanding of Code Orange was, shops/businesses, (other than pharmacies and supermarkets,) required a vax pass. I was shocked, but not shocked, having to show my pass at only one of the four places I visited. Slack staff mask-wearing practices was also worrying, and I still blame the government's wishy-washy "kind" non-commitment; at this point, there should be no doubt we're better off with than without them. In contrast, supermarkets are old hands at this by now, down to the trainee check-out teenager at the far left lane. They are now the safe, comforting retail oasis. (In reviewing the quick color code reference, I see I'm confusing the masks and vax passes. It's too fiddly to list here, but I see the government still likes to "encourage" mask use in some places.)    

Every year, we give our milkie a small gift, usually an inexpensive assorted choc box from the supermarket. They are not bad stuff, though; we buy the same for ourselves. This year, Ben thought we could put in a little more work, so we got the mini version of some of our favorites, and we'll mix and match and put them in a handmade bag or box with a message of thanks. I want to make a few packs for our courier delivery folks, too, even though sometimes they some can't be bothered driving down our windy driveway. 
I like this season of being thankful. I know handmade whatever pleases some, puzzles others, but making is for the gratification of the maker; what follows is extra.   
Day 14+7+86+16, December 18. 39 in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taupo/Lakes, Taranaki. Nelson stays at 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital. Counted as border cases are four new cases of Omicron in addition to the first on Thursday and three I didn't mention yesterday; total is now eight, but only two are linked; they were from Europe, Africa, and Asia. 76% of population and 90% over 12 double-jabbed.    
I don't understand when the ministry says, "today's case numbers do not cover a full 24 hour period due to the change in reporting times to a midnight-to-midnight cycle from 9am-to-9aml" wasn't the switch take place midweek? The ministry's website I mentioned Wednesday has not been updated since Thursday. Otherwise today was a slow reporting day, giving me a chance to catch up. 

In Aotearoa NZ, up-your-nose PCR tests has been the only commonly used testing method. Though saliva testing has been in use in very limited number of places, it was not available to the wider public. BUT now they say we can get it for $115 a pop at some pharmacies if we really want one. AND the first NZ study found them 99.1% accurate. 
Lateral Flow Tests the UK government distributed free of charge, (until they ran out recently?) may be what is called the Rapid Antigen Tests here. Though they are not available to the general public as far as I've read, free testing has been conditionally available since December 15 until January 31 for the not-fully-vaccinated and under 12s to submit for travel purposes. With the new normal of living with Covid the world over, let's hope these will be widely available free or at low cost around the world. And hey, let the ready facilities in poorer places make their own vaccines already!! 

It's almost 8:30PM but I'm nearly caught up on the Covid reading for today. And that's great because all this month I've been reading printed books before I go to sleep, until the arrival of Omicron. Tonight I might finish one. 
I had an idea midweek and was going to have a little fun in the kitchen, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow.   
Day 14+7+86+17, December 19. 55 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital; 0 in the rest of the South Island. Five new Omicron at managed isolation, total 13, but one has recovered and been released. 76% of population and 90% over 12 double-jabbed. 
It's been so hot today, I might see if there are Covid articles later, or not. Ben made another never-to-be-repeated cheesecake, coffee this time, and we had a lovely afternoon with friends. Among other things we compared notes about our aging parents. As we near old age ourselves, the best I can aim is not to complain (too much) and be grateful for everything I have/had in life; I better start training today, as it's not exactly my natural disposition.  

Pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas Tree, is flowering late this year in Nelson, which is great because often they are in full bloom at the start of December. This is the view from our living room window, and why don't need a tree inside. It's actually one tree - the front part Ben managed to trim standing on the stairs outside the window in April last year; the tall part he couldn't reach. The photo is unedited. We are going to get professional tree guys to trim it nicely. Eventually. 
Day 14+7+86+18, December 20. 69 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital; 0 in the rest of the South Island. New Omicron cases 9, total 22, one case released. 76% of population and 90% over 12 double-jabbed. As of midnight last night, Nelson-Marlborugh-Tasman had 550 doses to reach 90%.

A person who tested positive twice, (unspecified if Delta/Omicron,) [EDIT: my mistake, they tested negative twice,] and transferred from Managed Isolation to hospital "left" and is missing in Auckland. No more detail. I'm shocked the media is not all over this, but there is an (insert-adjective) reduction in Covid news coverage since the weekend.
We had another hot day, and all I did was read and doze off in different parts of the house as I looked for cooler spots every couple of hours. And a big thank you, Esther, we looked forward to and speculated what we'll be getting this year, but you have exceeded all our expectations. Meals will be served on these for the foreseeable future unless we cook something too runny.
Day 14+7+86+19, December 21. Remind me never to mention light news days. Because, whoa. 28 in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital; none in the rest of the South Island. 
No new Omicron cases at the border; total 22. There was something that bothered me for a wee while; only a few days after Omicron arrived, the government snuck in one case already recovered and released. I wondered how a case could be deemed safe and be released so quickly, but it turns out this case arrived nine days before our "first" Omicron case. The person travelled from London via Singapore; arrived on December 7; tested positive on Day 0/1; stayed in managed isolation in Auckland; recovered and was out in the community around December 16 or 17. On December 9, when this case was reported, the Ministry did not know where the travel originated, (HUH???) and the test was not genomically sequenced until later, even though WHO had announced Omicron to be Variant of Concern on November 26, and by the time the person arrived UK had around 600 cases. This case was added to NZ's Omicron number on December 19 as "already recovered and released". So am I the only person freaking out a little at the Ministry's slackness??

The person who "left" the hospital yesterday has a young child with them and is still missing; this person tested negative twice, not positive as I wrote yesterday. Sorry. Meanwhile, a Santa visit is among Locations of Interest in Tauranga. The lottery for returning Kiwis to secure managed isolation is on hold until January 6. The government had announced some weeks ago Kiwis returning from Australia can go straight to self-isolation starting January 17; this has been pushed back to end of February, along with some rule changes. Air NZ will cancel around 120 flights, mostly trans-Tasman. I haven't seen anything about Kiwis returning from elsewhere going straight to self-isolation, which was to start on February 14 from memory. 
76% of population and 90% over 12 double-jabbed. Nelson-Marlborough-Tasman reached 90%, 10th of the 20 District Health Boards. Cabinet approved vaccination for 5-11 year olds; littlelies can start on January 17. Those over 18 can get 3rd/booster jabs four months after the second, starting early January, which puts us eligible for boosters on January 17. I thought maybe we'll give the system time to get used to littlelies, but Ben will be on campus by then, and I think he'd like it ASAP for now. We don't have to go together; heavens, we booked to get the second shots together, but we didn't get there together, so he had to wait for me afterwards. :-D

This time of year, we often get Blackball black pudding; it's "local" in that it's not from Nelson but the West Coast, a few hours away. Blackball brand is yummy and is "World-Famous in New Zealand"; catchy, but I stole it from another NZ brand. I love back and white puddings so much, when we visited Scotland, I had it as often as I could, including deep-fried black pud on a stick at a fish and chip shop in Orkney. Ben cooked in a more ordinary way this morning. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 17

Day 14+7+86+6, December 8. 90 in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Nelson. One new/20 active cases in Nelson. There is no new information about Nelson cases; I swear the local paper copy/pastes the same couple of sentences. None in the rest of South Island. 74% of population and 88% over 12 are double-jabbed. 
There seems to be fewer Covid news coverage today regarding specific cases/locales, except Gisborne is likely to have case/s according to wastewater testing. 
I've come to see this Traffic Signal system as a way for the government to download responsibilities to District Health Boards, regional councils, and businesses/organizations. The biggest issue is the vaccine pass; some cafes are calling themselves supermarkets now to avoid having to check the passes and offering takeaway only. School trips are cancelled if passes are required of student over 12, not in opposition to the passes for those students without. For people who regularly cross regional borders, different council rules requires re/checking; for e.g. we have relatively easy access to three libraries that require vax pass, while another that doesn't. (Though I don't think we can borrow from the last, Richmond Library.) Meanwhile, in preparation for further loosening of travel restrictions on December 15, Councils and Health Boards are having to set aside quarantine facilities. For example, the New Zealand tourist mecca, Queenstown, has so far set aside two motel units. Two. 2.

Today was sunny as heck, just like forecast, and I planned an inside day last night. I spent a leisurely morning making butter chicken. There is one step that's always puzzled me in this recipe: heat oil at medium heat; add puréed onion; cook until almost brown. I fudge this bit every time because however long I give the onion, the only way my purée turns brown is to add the spices. Today's looks a little coarse because I wondered if I can see it turning almost brown better, but no. And in real life it's even greener, almost pretty.  
As well, although the sun was out all day, I discovered the area I want to weed next is under the trees in a lovely shade until about 11AM this time of year. (Bad good news for the nearby veg patch, but we always knew this.) I'll go out early tomorrow morning. The weeds and bugs are horrible, but then, I seldom weed this late in the season. Anyhoo, heads down, big bum up.     
Day 14+7+86+7, December 9. 103 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, plus one after the cutoff in Christchurch linked to previous cases. In Nelson, no new/21 cases/one in hospital/one recovered. 74% of population and 88% over 12 double-jabbed. Sorry, I haven't today's articles because I was out weeding again. 
It was a hot and humid day and I tried to think of an excuse not to go outside, but even while I was thinking, I felt weeds growing like in a bad cartoon. Or horror movie. So out I went, and weeded the veg patch we planted on October 16. There was one section we couldn't remember what we planted, and it didn't look like anything important was coming up, so I cleared that and put in more broad beans. 
We had a packet of radish seeds that came with a magazine way back, but I don't like radishes so it lived in my seed box. Ben was keen, so in it went when Ben cleared one-third of the beg patch in October. Since the packet was so old, I didn't expect much, and put seeds close together and a little too shallow, but they've done well. I picked a few for salad, then gently pulled out some in the most crowded parts and gave them some space nearby. I wonder if they'll survive. Fun fact: Radishes with the biggest leaf growth didn't necessarily have large... radishes underground. They are so pretty in salads, but still don't like the sharpness. But Ben liked them, I think, and there's plenty more to come.
Day 14+7+86+8, December 10. 95 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, one new/22 cases/one in hospital/one recovered. Two in Canterbury, linked to previous cases. Two deaths in hospitals, no detail. Nelson's case is linked to the larger school cluster; information about Nelson's Covid is really just copy/paste everyday; origin is still unknown. Oh, remember the remote hut in Fiordland being a high risk location of interest relating to a border case? That seems to have been a historical case. 75% of population and 89% over 12 double-jabbed. 
There have been a lot of coverage on who advised the government how and when, and the government explaining/rejecting/excusing their decisions, or not commenting. One interesting issue is why the vax passes are valid for six months since the issue, or June 1, 2002, whichever comes first, rather than the date of the second jab. (More accurately it should be a couple of weeks after the second jab, but that may be nitpicking. Or not.) And when I got the pass, the nice lady said, as of the time of issue guideline said I don't need to renew the pass when I get a booster in March. The Health Ministry is not responding. 
It was another hot, humid day, and I didn't want to go outside; I wasn't even cooking or reading. Then I thought, I could do a few little things, so I tied the broad beans to stakes; tied the tall chard and beetroot "trees" to stakes; deadheaded Elena rose, (and of course stuck the branches in coffee bag planters,) and weeded by the side of the driveway. It was hard going, but our place is looking really bad now, and I'm trying to keep upbeat about the work, but some days it's... hard. 
By the way, do you know what this is? I remember planting three types of beans, (of which soy didn't come out; we've tried soy beans so many times but we've never had even one germinate,) carrots, red radishes, and this. We didn't plant any greens, and for a while I thought these were red radishes, but do you think they are beetroot? I don't remember planting any, but they look like the stuff that come out of tops of beetroot. They didn't do well; they got a big patch, and we have maybe half a dozen shoots; maybe under a big akeake tree wasn't a favorite place. 😃 
Day 14+7+86+9, December 11. 63 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki. Two in Canterbury, linked to other cases. No new/22 active cases/one in hospital/one recovered in Nelson; no new information. One border worker tested positive, but it is unclear if this is a community or border case. 75% of population and 89% over 12 double-jabbed.  
Every few years on Boxing Day, we buy Christmas pud, and some years we eat them in winter, but tonight we had some, being colder than usual this time of year. 
We're supposed to have a week of off-and-on rain; it'll be nice not to have to choose between yard work and fun stuff, but the weeds are going to be... well,  you know. Crikey, it's getting seriously dispiriting. 
Day 14+7+86+10, December 12. 103 in Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, and Canterbury; one in Taranaki and one in Nelson, linked, will go into tomorrow's tally, no other detail about Nelson case. So, one new/23 cases/one in hospital/one recovered. 75% of population and 89% over 12 double-jabbed. 
So far there has been no announcement we have Omicron in the country, but then they didn't tell us Delta had arrived until they had to announce the August lockdown, and considering the traffic between us and Australia or UK, well... I don't listen to the updates and don't often watch the news on the telly, so these questions may have been asked; it's weirder if nobody is asking. What's weirder is in the last year since we've known more about Corona, there has been next to no discussion on ventilation, even from talking head not necessarily in agreement with government policies/decisions. I don't even remember recommendations to keep windows open in school, but it's possible I don't remember. We are in summer now, and last of the schools close in a week, so if they were going to invest in ventilation, now is the time to have already secured funding, and be finalizing installation schedule. 

In the early days in this house, (when we were 25 years minus 45 days younger,) we used one load, 4m3, of firewood per winter. Then, forever, before and after we got double glaze, we've burned give or take 6m3 per winter. This past winter was the second we used just shy of 8m3. We usually buy our first 4m3 lot in November, and they were clean and dry (=light) and we stacked them the quickest in maybe 10 years. Felt buoyed, we ordered the second lot right away, because what we don't use will keep until the winter after. 
Well!! This was a real bottom of the barrel stuff, wet, dirty, heavy and some with black mold starting. But all the more reason we had to stack them right away. All the sunny, windy spots were already taken up, so we had to stack them on the enclosed part of the patio. It's under a roof, and it does get wind, but it passes diagonally from the left of this picture to a couple of meters to the right of those wee steps, and the retaining walls get very wet when it rains. So I stacked them 20-30cm offset on both sides, ( Ben carries them up gnarly steps, across the patio, up another few steps and dumps them for me,) but now I've convinced myself large rodents will take up residence behind them. The worst part is, these have to be used first, because left here all winter they get bad mold. Both from the same reputable vendor, but yikes.   

I then went to a shady part and tried weeding some more but it was sunny and hot and humid and I started to feel woozy so went inside and had a shower. And you know the rest, it's the usual story; as soon as I came upstairs refreshed, the cloud came out and the afternoon looked cool and breezy and ever so  perfect for you-know-who to you-know-what. But I read another YA for the rest of the afternoon. 
Day 14+7+86+11, December 13. 101 in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Canterbury (linked), and Nelson one new/23 cases from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital. (The numbers most probably didn't change suddenly, but they were announced today.) All Code Red regions except Northland will move to Code Orange on New Year's Eve day. Northland is being held back due to low vax rate. With regional borders opening on Wednesday, Rapid antigen testing will be offered free at pharmacies for prospective travellers. Kinda mixed message on vax, n'est-ce pas? A group of flight attendants who are close contacts of an Australian Omicron case arrived and entered managed isolation. 75% of population and 89% over 12 double-jabbed.  
We don't get out much, and we went to our PO Box for the first time in maybe a fortnight, to find two care packages. This one is from our dear friend Conrad. He got me to switch to using waxed fabric instead of plastic wraps. I haven't used plastic wraps in ages but Ben likes them. We used to use maybe a roll every two to three years. I knew people used these, but I couldn't get my head around using stiff fabric to wrap anything, and instead I always washed and reused the plastic. Once I got the hang of these, though, our plastic use went down markedly. This year Conrad is going to get us to reduce paper towel usage. Though we use cloths of many different kinds in the kitchen, we both like our paper towels, so this will be a bigger change.
Thank you, dear. You are a good influence.
Day 14+7+86+12, December 14. 80 in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taupo/Lakes. Nelson: 0 new/23 from this outbreak/15 active/8 recovered/0 in hospital. One case in Canterbury, linked, was reported after the cutoff. A border case is also in quarantine in Christchurch. Auckland is still Code Red until the end of the year but regional border opens tomorrow; 7500 of them will fly out, 3500 are planning to fly in. Gulp. I hope they are the good Aucklanders who followed the rules and such. 75% of population and 89% over 12 double-jabbed.  

This morning Ben commented how tired I looked yesterday. I thought I was just being lazy, but I was too exhausted to peel myself off the floor at one point. So today, I stayed in bed reading another YA novel until late, then got up and cooked. I think I said before, I didn't imagine cooking would be my No 1 place of solace, but it so is. And tonight's dinner, honey/lime chicken on cauliflower rice, turned out tasty, although this is the only pic I have because we were hungry.  This time of year I think a lot about baking, but we've both been reacting badly to white flour, even when we mix with coconuts or almond, so I haven't been baking. When I was in high school I practice a lot of piping, and I'd love to do some of that, even though we prefer our cakes naked to taste the full deliciousness of the cakes themself. Maybe gingerbread people.