Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Days of a Plague, Season 2, Week 5

Day 29, September 9. Ben's Holiday 10/14. Ward Update: Patient B slept OK and made bitter coffee in the morning, Not-Nurse M added lame cheese toasts and leftover salad. It's windy, so food foraging may be next. Wind-permitting, weeding OR washing a WHOLE bunch of tiny plastic pots OR lost wax project in the afternoon. Garden Center is out because neither of us can lift large bags of potting soil. Or weaving. 🤣🤣
Does anyone remember what occupied this space before the travel agency? A bank branch? I don't remember it being a sporting goods shop this side of December 1996, though.

We watched the recording of the update; we must stop watching the press Q&A afterwards as I fear stupid might be contagious. Then we left home at 2.30 to go to the PO, bank and the supermarket. Schools close around 3PM in New Zealand and many parents pick up their kids in the family car, resulting in Part 1 if afternoon traffic jam, on the road and in shops. We came home around 4.30 exhausted. (In Non-Plague time, we often went to the supermarket in the evenings.) But I still have got it in me to draw a little, and if not, I'll knit.

6PM Update: Patient appears to be in far less pain than initially anticipated, OR being a real man by not showing it outwardly, getting in and out of Pajero more easily than short, old Not-Nurse. (Actually it reminds me of my wonky hip problem; he says staying standing up is easier than changing posture or staying seated.) Patient also chopped cabbage finely for coleslaw, prepped yogurt, and may cook fish for dinner. Not-Nurse is unsure what her duties were, but will start the fire anon and later prepare a hot bath. Medication will be reduced from 3*generic minimum dose paracetamol/day to 1* starting tonight before bedtime.
Day 30, September 10. Ben's Holiday 11/14. I hoped it would be like the weekend when rain was forecast throughout but we got it for all of 20 seconds while I was outside taking a pic. I woke up at the regular time but was consumed by news for hours, HOURS, just reading headlines and summaries but not full articles. Remembering sourdough was waiting, I got up, and:

Made mayo; made coleslaw with cabbage Ben chopped yesterday.
Prepped rye loaf; fed sourdough.
Checked latest lacto-fermentation; all but one (beetroot) went into the fridge; got rid of the white mold and added filtered water in the one troubled bottle; this stays on the table.  
Washed/soaked cannellini.
Salted tonight's steak. 
Had a wee break with coffee No 1. 
Made Tondoori Masala marinade; marinaded chicken for Chooza Tikka and Butter Chicken.
Stomped outside, fetched a paver, shooed away a blackbird digging around the healthiest new Slate for the third day, and placed the paver in front, and some wood behind it. He came back in 12 minutes to dig elsewhere. 
Washed dishes.
Had coffee No 2.

This took less than the aforementioned "hours," but since it was raining, Ben casually mentioned we, (i.e. I,) could make tapenade with some old black olives. Instead of making a mental note and putting the jar back in the fridge, I was on autodrive. Without caper, without anchovy, though, it morphed into a nuts and seeds paste with a lot of thyme and garlic and Ben's peppery olive oil. It was actually good.

I realize some of the tasks in the list took no more than 10 seconds, but some days one yearns for a sense of achievement any way one can get it. Thinking back, had I gotten up at the regular time when I woke up and gone outside, I could have had half a day of working in the hellebore patch. I'm loosing patience with myself because this week plants/weeds are growing at a visibly freakish rate; I kid you not, it's like a bad movies!

After 4PM, the sun came out, the temperature was nice, I was so keen to go outside to do something, but couldn't think of anything I'd be happy to do just for an hour before dark, (or when rain returned,) so I thought to draw. (I haven't started at the time of writing.) I am struggling with drawing lately, partly because I don't do it regularly. I loose not only the knack but the love for it; I find the drawings uninspiring, dispirited.

Still a goodish day. More than half the fridge content is our own pre-processed food. :-D It means for the foreseeable future there is variety in our salads/sides without fuss. So, yay me? But I'm not going back to the kitchen for the rest of the evening.
Day 31, September 11. Ben's Holiday 12/14.
Day 32, September 12. Ben's Holiday 13/14. For the first time Ben went to bed without painkillers last night, and though sometimes uncomfortable, he seems to be doing OK. Phew. In fact, he weeded in a more or less normal posture for some hours in the afternoon, and isn't bent out of shape. I got distracted by a backup software, (I thought Ben instructed me to watch it first and then to do something afterwards; turns out I only needed not to shut down the laptop,) but I, too, went outside later and put three hours' work, including some upside-down convolvulouos root digging where my body is at a higher elevation than my hands and the roots. 

I love strongly scented plants. Last Monday I cleaned the thyme pots, of which we have quite a few! Today I pruned untidy sage plants and prepped for propagation. Near sage I have oregano that's growing not where I put it, and a rosemary I propagated in a shallow planter and left in a suitable position. Of the half a dozen, one grew so well and is now over 2 meters long growing sideways and its roots deep in the ground through the planter. I would like to dig it up without killing it and without destroying the terracotta planter, and put it in the ground properly.

I also have some heliotrope babies that need shaping, and quite a lot of what we call Erica but we know it's not the right name. Their needle-like leaves smell divine, but we lost three because miniature Kowhai above grew so vigorous, it deprived them of light. I also rescued Ben's favorite shrub with yellow flowers, (NO idea what it is,) some years ago from underneath the Kowhai; it didn't do to well in the new position and we thought we lost it but Ben found it while weeding. Other than roses, I am in charge of pruning, except tall trees we do together, so after the hellebore patch, I'll be going around giving everybody haircuts. Sadly, our lilac bush and gardenia-in-a-pot appear well and truly dead.Ben also found out the roots of either a cherry tree, or more probably the big maple, is spreading so vigorously it's now cracking out driveway concrete. That will need professional solutions. 

I'm trying to put as much of what I've propagated in the last... decade into the ground now before the ground becomes too dry and hard. But I say that every year about now. I almost sound like someone who likes to garden, don't I?
Day 33, September 13. Ben's Holiday 14/14. Photo Day 29. Boo hoo, Ben's last day of holiday. We cooked, ate well, didn't go out much; we had hoped to brunch in a cafe and there was a movie Ben wanted to see, but we did neither. Which sounds more or less a typical Nakagawa staycation.

Today we slept in, had a ho-hum breakfast, and I set out to make Butter Chicken for the last night. It was darkish and windy in the morning so I took my time. Ben, on the other hand, might have overdone it yesterday and had an uncomfortable night, but ended up in front of the computer for quite a long time. I.e. most of the day!!

Butter Chicken took longer than usual; I'd forgotten to get tomato paste so had to improvise. I've also been too enthusiastic about fenugreek since Ben commented that makes our house smell like an Indian restaurant, but I'd overdone it and the concoction was turning bitter.

Wind died, sun came out, I was missing out on outside time, but I was nowhere near finishing, all worked up in frustrated, exasperated panic. I did the best I could, it was nearly 3PM, but the only remedy in calming down was to engage in some carnage in the garden.

These days it's light enough until nearly 6PM, so I kept digging convolvulous roots around the hellebores. Though the job wasn't as meticulous this year, and already tiny grass is coming through the bits I weeded first, I'm declaring "winter" weeding completed in Hellebore Patches I and II. I still have to feed them, mulch, place obstacles for cats and blackbirds; and dig around and reset the pavers, but, hey, it's something.

We quit investing in bark, though, because that's an open invitation to blackbirds; they not only make a mess but dig too deep and take out younger plants. I used to have a dozen purple Heucheras in between hellebores, (all different kinds!) but their roots are shallow and blackbirds routinely took out 40cm plants, so now I only have one hidden a little way away.

Last week I noticed bluebells had come out suddenly and I loved the color combination of pale blue and dark purple, so today's pic is a "before" pic. It looks dry but that part of the garden is like a wind tunnel and it only gets dryer in summer, so this is our tough love gardening. Slightly to the left, the next area I'm attacking, currently has creamy alstroemeria behind rosemary, and they, too, are producing a lovely color combo. I always like dark blues and purples, but these pale purples are working out this year.  

Not even I imagined I'll be talking like this, but here's the clincher: the FB succulent group told me the damage done to one of mine was due to snails and slugs, and I had to go out every evening to check for the and kill. And I do. And now, (gulp!) I can even pick up slugs with my bare hands! Although it is followed by frantic Plague-Plus washing.

Ben "goes back" to work in the morning.
Day 34, September 14. Lovely sunny day, but we expected another 1PM update, so once again, I scheduled my morning around it. I'm not sure if watching these live is that important, or reading summaries later would suffice and I'm just using them as an excuse, or to anchor my life. Anyhoo, I took a bunch of photos of these fading dark pink hellebores, and some of the outside ones, in my pink PJs at hours normal people were heading to work. :-D

Parliament was dissolved on September 6 in preparation for election on October 17, but I assumed the Labour-led cabinet was deciding, and Jacinda was announcing from Dunedin where she was today; the uncertainty annoyed me. And though that was the case, silly camera person showed Jacinda only, and the sign interpreter was just out of view and but we could see his shadow!

Auckland will stay in Level 2.5 to be reviewed next Monday. (There is potentially another cluster, though I doubt we'll know before next Monday.) The rest of the country remains in Level 2, with a lot of fancy language, but nothing changes for the week. Rules on public transport changed but that doesn't concern us. There was a big anti-lockdown protest in Auckland, but I'm glad the government didn't succumbed to political pressure. Aotearoa* is becoming divided, populist politicians and business folks are spreading stupid. The worst part is, it's always the already vulnerable communities that is affected the worst.

I had intended to, and needed to, go out for sanity's sake, even though the sun was really bright and I was getting a headache even inside the house. I dithered for a long time, too. Once again I wanted to plant some stuff as rain is forecast for the rest of the week, but planting requires some thinking and I just couldn't manage, so I planted myself in one of the worst weedy areas and did my thing. Sure, shoulda done more in the winter, shoulda done more last week, so new plants are already in the ground, yadda yadda, but just because rain is forecast doesn't mean we'll get some, so maybe there is time to pop out if I have good ideas.

*It's Maori Language Week, and Jacinda thought it'd be great if we used more Maori, starting with "Aotearoa" i.e. New Zealand. Until a few years ago I had my heart set on learning some Maori, (and a lot of Italian,) but I abandoned them because English is hard enough. But I hope to learn a few words, and perhaps untranslatable concepts, my fav. 

PS. Sorry about the horrible windows. I have firewood under the kitchen windows so I can't hose them down just now, but perhaps I'll add that to my list and move the firewood, so I can see my progress while I work in the current patch.
Day 35, September 15. Brilliant spring sun, slight breeze, perfect for weeding. Except on Wave II Day 3 of Hay Fever my eyes were so itchy I used eye drops before finishing the usual morning chores. Still itchy, with more eye drops plus nasal spray plus antihistamine, I waited for them to kick in, taking pics around the kitchen. I was going out at noon one way or another.
 I wondered if I can cut this up to get multiple beet roots?
Lovely cool temps, occasional wind. Then more wind. Then cold gusts and gray sky. Around 12.45 soft rain; by 12.55 it was cold and the rain got serious, I came. By 1.05 the sun was out again, and 1.07, rain stopped. It was going to be one of days!

But rain is good; plants needed it, the ground needed it, and hay fever eyes really needed it. I left a small shovel and seed packets by the front door so I could rush out if the spirit moved; otherwise there was plenty to do inside.

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