Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 10

Day 14+7+43, October 20. 60 new, Auckland 56, Waikato 4; 2158 in the cluster; 767 active, 1389 recovered. Genomically unlinked 166 from the last 14 days. Hospitalization is also creeping up. The government is opening saying the daily cases can go as high as 200, that number will peak around mid-November. Or case numbers will double every 6 to 12 days. Or something such. Oh, dear. 
I've arrived at that place where I don't worry about 1PM updates. Today I went outside at 12.30, and... I dug out pebbles; sieved pebbles; picked out good plant material and threw them back near plants; picked out roots and weed bulbs and threw them in the weed bag; washed pebbles, and put them back in the top step. That's the smallest step, and took 3.5 hours; there are four more under the big camellia tree, and six, shallower steps elsewhere, and two large flat areas; I'll do steps but not the flat parts because they are easier to weed. But that was hard slog. 
Now do you believe me our place is really weed-filled? The top pic is supposed to show a path, and to the right is my big hellebore patch, neglected while I've been working in other areas. But the ground is already getting a little hard to weed. Maybe weeds first, steps later.
Day 14+7+44, October 21. 102 new, Auckland 94, Waikato 8; 2262 in the cluster; 868 active, 1390 recovered. Genomically unlinked 199 from the last 14 days. Waikatao stays at Level 3 until Monday; Auckland in Level 3 (picnic) until... I might have seen a November date.

In the morning I wrote many paragraphs on what our government is doing incorrectly. :-D But I think my attitude is turning into despondency. The tone is rapidly descending to what UK's Independent Sage has been criticizing (of their own government); the inevitability, "the numbers are as expected," on a loop. Bloomfield even compared our numbers to UK's as an indicator of how we're doing OK, or was it where we're going, I can't remember, because I turned it off. Sorry, UK, but your numbers are not good. Our hospital system is worried; the ministry says we're on course; we are "expecting" around 180 cases per day in a few weeks. Our ministers are (rightly) tired, and they are looking for shinier toys, like a free trade agreement with the UK. (The reason for the sudden appearance of UK Covid numbers?) Everybody is between a rock and a hard place, but I can't stop imagining talking heads in the cushy home offices zooming and playing with numbers while families of ten in a three-bedroom house wondering how the heck they will manage home isolation of one member. And that is not a far-fetched scenario in parts of Auckland. 
After getting into the throes of moving Sisyphean pebbles yesterday, I expected my arms to fall off, but nothing. Not even tender muscles. So I was eager to get into the weeds, until a joke with Andy in Sweden led me to practice the Live-Long-and-Prosper hand gesture. My fingers are weirdly uncoordinated it once took days of practice, and I still have difficulties with my left, but this morning, my left ring finger was behaving all kinds of crazy; it didn't exactly hurt, but more like it didn't move as I willed it to, so I decided to stay inside and thread. (Which is why I turned on the 1PM update, a big mistake.) 
It's the "small" red/orange sample warp. Once already I had to unthread about 200 ends because I had calculated the number of heddles incorrectly and had to move everything on Shafts 2 to 12 to one side to make them available, rather than split to try to balance the weight. While threading yesterday, I still had a foreboding the numbers were still wrong, because a color change was meant to occur one-third of the way, and from the number of heddles used, I was passed it. I checked the notebook and suddenly remembered that in a warp where every 20/2 is paired with 60/2 but I counted only the 20/2 to figure out the sett, I had just short of 800 ends rather than 400. What a lot of threading for a puny preliminary sample! Anyway, I took out all of about 300, shoved all heddles to one side, and started again, this time threading from the left selvedge like I usually work, rather than the right.
There are days like these.   
Day 14+7+45, October 22. The daily numbers' format changed, and tonight I'm thoroughly confused, so today's daily case number is 129, and I'll amend if I can find other relevant numbers. Later in the day, two cases emerged in Northland, unrelated to the two previous absconders.
There was also an announcement about the Traffic Light system, (not in their usual press room; with four ministers present; and at 10AM,) which will be introduced as vaccination level reach 90%, (I think two shots by everyone eligible, i.e. over 12.) Details are TBD, it's meant to advantage individual and businesses who use the soon-to-come vaccine passport, ergo entice folks to get jabbed, and to... well, live with Covid, community-spread or imported. The country seems to have been split into Auckland, the rest of North Island, and South Island. In fact, South Island got a rare mention; if all the South Island District Health Board districts achieve said 90%, we may be granted a different Traffic Light color than the North Island. There may be periods when some areas are on the Level system, while others move on to Traffic Lights. I printed out the Traffic Light information sheet to study, but it was just a jumble of words today. I'm tired. On the other hand, no region is moving to the Traffic system immediately. 
I realizes the government is between a rock and a hard place no matter what they do. One advantage New Zealand has at present is we are heading into summer, and Kiwis lurrrve the outdoors. Numbers are likely to "reduce down" - Jacinda's favorite phrase - after it peaks in two to three weeks, until Feb/March/even April. And then we'll see where we are, and where the rest of the world is. Ben's and my second jabs were in mid-September; we hope by next autumn, the booster situation will be well-established.
Ben had the day off, (he has a lot of annual leave accumulated,) so we ran errands in town and got food. We are definitely still lockdown-shopping; we tend to stick to buying the same staples, and even if we have some left, we buy one extra just in case. 
I probably wrote this before: one of Kiwi favorites is a dip made of reduced cream and onion soup mix. Today the supermarket were promoting it. I asked Ben if we should try it, but he reminded me we once did years ago, and did not like it at all. He volunteered to make me guacamole. 
I'm so tired today.
Day 14+7+46, October 23. 104 new; 149 genomically unlinked, probably in the last 14 days. There is one case in Blenheim, South Island, but not one government critter could be bothered to make an appearance because it's the long weekend. I'm speechless. I found other numbers, but I can't be bothered, and I suspect, neither can you. 
Some years ago I started keeping a diary, not because my life suddenly turned exciting, but because I forgot so much so quickly. And having the right notebook is so very important I usually take weeks and months selecting. Then there are serendipitous meeting like last year when I saw the blue one on the left. It's beautiful, lovely to hold, and allows me to write just about the right amount each day. (For stationary aficionados, it's Paperblanks' Horizontal Maxi.) And perhaps because I love this blue so much, I had a hard time finding anything I liked, but after several visits to several stores, I selected another Paperblanks. In fact every time I visited the store, it grew on me, so I finally bought it yesterday. Except, it's a Midi, a slightly smaller size! 
So Ben took me back to the store this morning to have another look, but there were no attractive Maxis. I should have checked other products, but I didn't, because now I'm so conflicted; it is an attractive little book, but my writing is so big and messy, and unless I practice writing smaller, my days will spill out into the margins every evening. 
Today was Mom's 91st birthday, and we Skyped/Zoomed/Lined in the evening. Her hearing isn't great and they set up their devise in a noisy room, it's difficult to communicate at the best of times, but today's connection was horrible; the picture froze and the sound delayed. She had forgotten it was her birthday, and asked me how old she is, but otherwise she was lucid and had a plausible good news. I'm not sure what to make of her telling me she's in touch with me most often; I talk to her perhaps every three weeks. Must do better, eh. 
Day 14+7+47, October 24. 80 new.
Day 14+7+48, October 25. 109 new. Sorry about being a slack reporter, but NZ's Covid news made me so angry I decided to disengage for a little while. 
Yesterday and today I woke up with lower back pains; this has been a long problem since I slipped backward running in the rain in 2006. Yesterday I had to do some abbreviated cleaning and make a salad, so I was relatively active all morning, which made the problem go away by late afternoon. Today, however, even though it was a beautifully sunny, cool, slightly breezy day, and even though I had brilliant ideas such as going for a walk around the airport, (flat, about an hour all the way around, but we usually turn back 3/4 of the way,) we watched movies, sitting in our comfy chairs. 

I'm fine standing up or walking on these days, but getting up/down is painful and sitting down or lying flat on my back, which is how I read and sleep, seem to make it worse, so yesterday and last night's "debilitating" pain, (it wasn't that bad, but it was squarely in the "pain" range rather than "annoyance",) was self-inflicted. Let that be a lesson I will remember for a couple of days. :-D
Day 14+7+49, October 26. 79 new. No update on the first day back from 3-day weekend, in spite of a South Island case on Saturday, but a 4PM after-Cabinet presser. I didn't watch it; I hear there was something about more workplace vaccine mandate, but nothing specific about the South Island, (from scanning briefly,) except there is to be no rapid testing for Aucklanders/North Islanders travelling to the South Island.

My back was in a terrible shape in the morning, so we changed tact; muscle cream and pain killers came into the picture, and I did a whole lot of standing-uppy things, including threading a quarter of the sample warp. Ben had four exercises recommended by his physio under similar predicament. I had a look, and noticed they do pretty much the same thing, so I stuck to the one I could do standing up and repeated every time I thought of it. It must be working because while binge-watching, (currently "Mr Robot",) I got up every so often and kept stretching, and I wasn't as uncomfortable afterwards. We'll see if we can get rid of the pain killers tomorrow. 
End of week 10, folks; seven of which for us has been this lukewarm, iffy, ambiguous level 2. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 9

Day 14+7+36, October 13. 55 new, Auckland 53, Waikato 2; 1719 in the cluster; 529 active, 1190 recovered. Parts of Waikao and Northland will remain in Level 3 (no picnic) until Monday. Auckland remain in level 3 (with picnic) and the rest of the country Level 2. I wasn't able to make this tulip flower. But she's still very beautiful.
Day 14+7+37, October 14. 71 new, all Auckland; 1790 in the cluster; 599 active, 1191 recovered. Two Asian Auckland "sex workers" were found in Blenheim, 90 min from us on the South Island. They tested negative, thank goodness, but their names, ages, and CCTV/police footage were all over within hours of the news breaking. Judge denied name suppression. Northland absconders, one of whom obtained essential worker status illegally, well that's hush hush. WTF. 
Day 14+7+38, October 15. 65 new, all Auckland; 1855 in the cluster; 664 active, 1189 recovered. 
Instead of pruning dead branches like I planned, I threaded. Or tried to, I'm using some of my favorites, 20/2 and 60/2 cotton. But 2/60s are getting harder and harder to see, and unlike 20/2s I could never "feel" that size, so un-pairng from the 20/2s involves bending over and looking out from a different part of my glasses. And then further bending-over for threading both threads. Still, the combination do magical things to "colors", so, worth it.   
Day 14+7+39, October 16. 41 new, Auckland 40, Waikato 1; 1895 in the cluster; 640 active, 1247 recovered. Today was Super Shot Saturday Vaxathon, a somewhat hastily-announced vaccination day, in over 120 different locations around New Zealand. There was live television in the 1980s telethon style, (with sign interpreters in most locations, which was impressive,) different locations offering food, drinks, prizes; musos, dancing; politicians, celebrities, sports starts, medical professionals, and never forget, so many volunteers. The weather was fabulous in most places, it appears. 
I said previously that we come from a certain time and a certain place, so we find vaccine hesitancy incomprehensible. But, you know, if folks like the festivity and can be swayed, or just as important, if rural folks can get it done easily, (there was a fly-through at a small rural airport for people with small planes,) why not. Jacinda was hoping for 100,000 shots today; around 6PM I think we cleared 125,000. I'll get the numbers tomorrow. 

Ben pruned trees I had intended to all week; I kept digging up weeds, but also put in/moved a few plants. Ben cleared about a third of our long-decommissioned veg patch. We hastily stuck some seeds in, which may not have been the wisest way, but heck... And I discovered blackbirds decimated my cornflowers all along the driveway. 
Rain tomorrow. 
Day 14+7+40, October 17. 51 new, "in Auckland and Waikato"; 1945 in the cluster; 621 active, 1322 recovered. Yesterday 130,002 got jabbed: 39,025, firsts, 90,977, seconds. 65% over 12 is fully vaccinated, 85% half-ly; low-ish, but considering we've had vaccines for unspecial folks since mid-July, OK-ish. It's the rest of the folks, rural and/or with other practical impediments, or card-carrying antis, who are going to bard to reach. 
The first thing I saw on the Internet this morning was this Guardian article. It's confirmed something I suspected awhile. A couple of weeks ago Level 3 with picnic, (and two or three more stages,) signalling we are no longer aiming for eradication, and the vaxathon, were rather suddenly thrust upon us. A group of usual-suspect "scientists" said they weren't consulted about the levels, and don't recommend complicating something we more or less got used to. The government said they were consulted; fine-tuning of the levels was meant to move Auckland to Level 2 incrementally; this is the new direction with a largely vaccinated population in mind. Rumor is we're going to ditch the Levels system and move onto traffic light system; so far I can't make sense of it. Hospital system is under pressure as is; border quarantine is making a lot of folks unhappy; there will be home quarantine, (yikes!) and travel, (YIKES!!). The linked article is worth your time; the interactive graphs alone are pretty neat.
Today's is another unedited but selective showing of our veg patch. At 3AM I woke up panting, imagining neighbourhood cats pooing and knew I must stick all the stakes we've got left. We had wind and rain today, but first thing tomorrow, definitely. 
Day 14+7+41, October 18. 60 new, Auckland 57, Waikato 3; 2005 in the cluster; 633 active, 1370 recovered. Auckland will remain in Level 2 (with picnic); this status will be reviewed on November 1. Parts of Waikato remains in Level 2 (no frills, I think); status to be reviewed on Friday. Northland will enter Level 2 on Wednesday. The rest of us remain in Level 2. There will be an announcement on the new traffic light system on Friday. 

Day 14+7+42, October 19. 94 new, Auckland 87, Waikato 7; 2099 in the cluster; 713 active, 1384 recovered. The media started to report not only how many got jabbed, but how many remains unjabbed. The number of genomically unlinked cases are increasing, but I can't find today's number. 
[EDIT: 183 unlinked cases.]
I weeded for four hours this afternoon, but for the time I spent, it was such a small area I was so disappointed. The wind picked up again, as did the temperature, and I'm afraid all the tulip petals will be blown away in the next few days if it keeps up.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Yet-Unnamed: Part 1

I should start recording my process/progress on my latest yet-unnamed project/s before I start to forget.

Sometime in early October, I remembered Refinery has two exhibitions early next year to which I could potentially submit weavings; one is RAW and the other is Changing Threads. I looked up due dates, which turned out to be five days apart in February. 
I have a few givens. Because I have been experimenting with Summer & Winter, with 20/2 and 60/2 mercerized cotton, I want to continue to work with these. I also have a few preliminary idea of size and shape of the finished piece, and how to hang it. 
Remembering the experience of weaving the purple piece, which I started on the day of the last US election, and because I am currently in that precarious in-between place of Level 2 lockdown, (not strict, but not exactly "almost normal",) I have in mind working on themes such as "uncertainty" or "disinformation".
To this end, I thought the cloudy look of my "old wallpaper" (hereafter abbreviated as OW) sample would suit, so I looked for data on how I wove OW, to no avail. However, I found another sample, the only other that I wove on this warp in a similar manner but which didn't wash/finish to look like OW.

After looking over more colorful Summer & Winter samples, however, I wondered if a noisier, more confusing, discordant look expressed the idea better. 
After a few days to-ing and fro-ing in my head, I realized I only have one sample with the OW look, and must sample more before assessing which look is more suitable. With no written data, I had a closer look at the sample:
* The warp threads are 60/2 silver blue for tabby, and 20/2 pale blue in pattern;
* The wefts are 20/2 yellow for tabby and 20/2 medium blue for pattern;
* I couldn't tell how many shafts I used, neither for tie-down nor pattern, but pattern shafts appear to be probably no more than four; 
* I have no idea how I threaded except it was random;  
* Tie-down is diamond-shaped. It could have been 1-2-3-4-1-4-3-2-1; I wove this on Klik, so there are enough shafts, but I also think unlikely because of the relative "complexity" of lifting. 
* I also have no idea when I sampled this.
* Sett is probably between 84 or 90EPI, slightly more crammed than 42 or 45EPI counting only the 20/2 ends. 
OW probably works when there are not many hues. The interest is in the texture and overall pattern, which may be distracted by many hues. I can see mixing 60/2 to create nuance, but less so 20/2 unless they are very close hue and value. On the other hand, if seen from some distance, as this would be in an exhibition, many in the close hues/values may make the piece appear more intense.
I looked at what threads I have on hand. Out of habit I checked for cones of same hue: I have some oranges but no reds in 60/2; I have yellows; I have many 60/2 in what I call "raincoat" colors, pale, indecisive blues and greens, along with one or two pale blue 20/2s, but no gray 20/2 which I prefer. Because of the number of cones in very similar hues, I made a short sample warp in oranges.  
It is possible to weave more than one look, e.g. a blurred, cloudy "uncertainty" vs. noisy, screamy "confusion" or "disinformation". One technical possibility is to use the pattern shafts in blocks, which may allow larger patterns, visible from a distance.  

For the next few days, however, I will be threading this. I'll use only 1 and 2 for tabby and 3-12 for pattern, as I thought using all 16 would make sampling too cumbersome. I plan to weave the real deal on the big loom downstairs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 8

Day 14+7+29, October 6. It's not looking great on Auckland's first day of the slightly loosened Level 3, and I'm getting a little confused, learning new place names as well. 39 new, Auckland 30, Waikato 9; some of these folks live further south of the special section in Waikato; 1420 in the cluster; 334 active, 1085 recovered. Sadly there was the second death from this cluster. There was also a "weak positive" from an essential worker testing in Northland; I'm not sure if this person is included in today's number, but we can only hope Delta hasn't jumped that far north.
Gang members have a few positive cases among them, and are largely unvaccinated. Ben tells me a Gang Boss who lives outside Auckland was hired by the government/ministry and was given essential worker status to go into Auckland and tell his lot to get jabbed. 
I peeled and juiced 41 limes. While peeling, the oil in the skin flew all over and I was sneezing like it's a terrible hayfever day. The peel went into the oven for low-temp fan grill because we had rain all day. I was going to make lime, vanilla and ginger cookies, too, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. The sneezing and juicing wore me out. And I still have to kneed bread tonight. 
I was eager to start working on a new weaving project, but at this point it's mostly inside my head, or sorting out logistics, like asking exhibition organizers if it's OK to post about the project in process; like asking my source if certain colors are still available; figuring out the approximate size of the piece; and how a piece of softish fabric must be hung to obtain/maintain a certain shape in the air. I love inside days.
Day 14+7+30, October 7. 29 new, Auckland and Waikato; 1448 in the cluster; 362 active, 1085 recovered. I've been saying I'm copying Radio NZ numbers, but I realized just today I've been looking at the government's Unite Against CIVID-19 all the while. I watch the updates, most days live, but I'm loosing the plot. Hibiscus Coast, north of Auckland, might have had a case yesterday; apparently there is the highest concentration of old folks' care homes. Today there was a bit of talk about enhancing testing options. Also, the boundary of Waikato's Level 3 area is changing at midnight. Also, just now on the late news, the aforementioned weak-positive truckie tested positive in Northland. Also, doctors and modelling peeps in the press are cautioning Delta will spread and increase, and this summer is going to be different from other years. In other words, we are following New South Wales and Victoria's pattern.   
Today inadvertently turned into an all-day-kitchen day. I first had to repair an exploding bread; then I peeled and juiced 58 limes, which took an awfully long time. Some were tiny, about the size of a big grape, so I got roughly the same amount of juice of 41 yesterday, and less peel. After the bread came out of the oven, I didn't wait long enough, and the peel turned crisp and bitter, not suitable for our usual use like salads, baking, soup and bean dish decoration, but we liked the bitterness so I crushed the lot into very small pieces and we'll use it as bitter flavoring.
By then, it was well after 3PM; I had two things I was desperate to try on the loom, but I was too tired. Then Ben commented we don't have any junk food in the house, and I didn't want us to buy a lot when we go to the supermarket on the weekend, so I made cookies. I got out the usual recipe, I intended to put in extra almond meal but forgot; I couldn't wait for the oven to preheat properly so I stuck the cookies in anyway, but they turned out quite nice. They are properly-dried lime peel, vanilla and ginger cookies, but the most noticeable is the sweetness of almond, and a hint of salt. And then I was really tired, Ben had to cook dinner. 
Tomorrow, some loom time. Also some weeding and more planting, if the sun comes out as promised.
Day 14+7+31, October 8. 44 new; (Auckland 41, Waikato 3 from TV ONE); 1492 in the cluster; 406 active, 1085 recovered. Remember the "Auckland truckie" with a weak positive from a few days ago? Turned out it's a she, who obtained essential worker status under false pretense; the status was revoked about the time positive result came out and the phone number was invalid. This person, with another woman, had travelled around Northland for four days before getting tested. It took a while to track her down, while no locations-of-interest was announced. "Out of abundance of caution," the whole of Northland, (where vaccination rate is low,) is going back to Level 3 for four days. Some of us might have had a sense of something like this; Jainda has been promoting vaccination somewhere for a couple of days. Ben says there is a group of doctors spreading anti-vax vids somewhere up there.


I had a sick day; I'm paying the price of baking and eating too much wheat flour. But I feel black forest brownies coming my way soon.
Day 14+7+32, October 9. 34 new in Auckland and Waikato; 1527 in the cluster; 402 active, 1123 recovered. Understandably there is great frustration in Northland about the two women who pranced around while at least one of them was Covid positive. The first woman has been uncooperative so the second woman hasn't been "found". The police has some CCTV footage of the two, and a few locations of interest have been identified. A former politician is amplifying a rumor he might have read on Facebook regarding their identify. What a mess.
Then there is a man who is in the process of moving out of Auckland into a rural property. He did everything right, getting permit, being tested regularly, scanning. He tested positive on his sixth surveillance test, but working on his case is going to be much easier.
This afternoon we went to the supermarkets; we got most of what we needed in the first but needed a few more and went to a second. With a bunch of junk food and a few non-junk in our trolley, I joked with the checkout lady we have veggies at home. She said everybody loads up on alcohol and chips on Saturdays; today her shift felt very long so she was going to do the same come home time. I didn't tell her we've already loaded up on the alcohol, but thanked her for working the long shift; she was too busy to talk to us by then, but she sounded slightly more chipper greeting the next customer. 
Day 14+7+33, October 10. 60 new, Auckland 56, Waikato 3, Bay of Plenty 1, (the last to do with the Auckland man moving); 1587 in the cluster; 438 active, 1164 recovered. I was talking to friends today that Delta is coming to the South Island and Nelson any day; we started to talk about the coming summer in terms of, "If we're still in Level 2." 

Ben always said the secret to a successful weekend is to get up early. Ugh, I have a hard time getting up any time of the day, weekend or otherwise. By the time I crawled into the kitchen this morning, this is what the kitchen looked like.
Over 20 years ago, he learned how to make tagliatelle from one Gino Rocco of Blenheim. (Remember his cafe across the street from... was it the post office?) Ben loves this, but you know, carbohydrate, so he hadn't done it in ages. He also makes mean udon noddles, too, but he can get a little fussy. 
Measure twice, cut once.  
With pasta drying, he moved on to peeling capsicums. 
Watching such an industrious husband from a comfy position, yours truly felt slightly guilty and set out  on the ambitious task of cleaning the house. With all the weeding we've been doing, there have been increased mud and plant material invading our living quarters. Days growing warmer, we walk around the house barefoot so we detect these foreign objects easily, and they've been accumulating to an uncomfortable level. "Why don't you vacuum more often?" I hear you ask. Well, that's one option. The other is to put on thick socks, until just the right moment arrives to tackle the problem.
Day 14+7+34, October 11. 35 new, all Auckland; 1622 in the cluster; 452 active, 1170 recovered. Alert levels remain the same: Auckland in Level 3 with picnics; Northland and parts of Waikato, regular Level 3 until Thursday unless otherwise announced; the rest of the country, Level 2. Auckland schools will not reopen next week. Vaccination will be required for health and education sectors; details of who exactly they are to come soon. The rouge companion of the rouge Northland traveller was located tonight.
Today was another one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't (change alert levels)" for the government. I think the whole country was upset with yesterday's 60, in three parts of the North Island. Some of us on the South Island have always wanted a travel ban between the islands, except essential workers, since there have been no cases on the South Island for a long time; tourist destinations are opposed; the government isn't interested. More realistically, though, these days we're all holding our breath, waiting/dreading to hear about a case on the South Island. 

Today Ben was exhausted from all the cooking yesterday. I was going out to weed in the morning before either the rain or wind came, but with the pending update, (these days, it's 4PM Mondays after Cabinet meetings,) I felt so... in-between, so I marinated chicken two ways and just hung around the kitchen. 

This is a view from Ben's office towards our driveway. I am getting really good at selectively showing you our place. My favorite hellebore patch, meanwhile, is knee high in convolvulus. I've got to finish the patch Ben and I have been working on, and move on.
Day 14+7+35, October 12. 43 new, Auckland 40, Waikato 3; 1664 in the cluster; 476 active, 1186 recovered. The second rogue Northland traveller tested positive. 
Right now, if you stand in front of my new oven and look out the window, you see the tips of the Elena rose with leaves that come out dark red which gradually turn bronze green to green; a small Japanese maple with leaves that start burning orange red that's already softening, and will turn yellow green in a few weeks; the big cherry tree whose petals are almost all gone but the young leaves are coming out; sasanqua with tiny leaves repeating the density of the maple; abundant lime tree that Ben recently trimmed; and the dark red camellia that we sometimes forget we have. And beyond, neighbor's lemon tree and palm fronds in a distance. In a few days the cherry leaves will obscure the lime and the camellia, but for just a few days, the layers and the depth is so complex and messy and magical, especially in the mornings.
I tried to capture it on three mornings on two devices unsuccessfully. The red of the camellia is brilliant and more visible in real life. This was taken this afternoon; I had to zoom hard and the mood is quite  different, but it's the best I can manage.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 7

Day 14+7+22, September 29. 45 new, Auckland; 1230 in the cluster; 243 active, 986 recovered. I'm stunned, but glad I missed the live update.
I've known Ben since 1985 and been married to him since 1990. Last lockdown, he surprised me with his expertise in making Chinese dumplings. This week he stunned me, saying he could go for a big bowl of jello/jelly. 
I've always loved jello. As a kid, mom bought me a few boxes once in a while so I can experiment with color layers, or mixing milk to make them translucent, or clear soda so to have bubbles like glass. In college it was a staple at our dorm cafeteria; it started with one color on Mondays, maybe another color Tuesdays, then layers, and by Friday it was a murky brownish with slight variations. By then I was aware of the evils of artificial sweeteners and colors, so I had them perhaps once a fortnight, earlier in the week, but not when it included mini marshmallows. 
As a grownup, I still loved them, but I preferred gelatin sheets and made them with coffee, (mom's favorite, no sugar, but unwhipped cream poured over,) tea, wine, sake, or soda. Once, I made one with orange juice at the bottom and milky bubble at the top for my niece, calling it a "beer jello" for her to have while her dad indulged in 0% alcohol beer, but from memory, she didn't come that weekend. 
Ben was never a big fan of jello, and listened to my stories with a slight disdain. Sometimes the "gelatin" I bought were vegetable based and didn't have that wobbly quality, (in Japan, we always had both, and used them in different ways, so a clarity on the packages would have helped!) so perhaps at the start of this century, I stopped. 

Even Ben doesn't know what possessed him to "miss" jello; maybe it was the weather suddenly warming up. But I'm always game, and I suppose I can indulge in a few store-bought, color-and-sweetener-laden variety. Today I went into town for a leisurely and pleasurable lunch with girlfriends, while Ben had a busier-than-usual day at home. Afterwords I went to the store and got the above assortment of flavors. I forgot strawberry, my childhood favorites, and they didn't have cherry or pineapple, but there was blackberry. Never mind, they probably taste all the same. We'll start with Boysenberry, his favorite real berry.   
Day 14+7+23, September 30. 19 new, 18 Auckland, one north Waikato; 1249 in the cluster; 256 active, 992 recovered. 
I was all set to weed again, but by the time I was ready, at around noon, the wind had picked up. Still keen, I went outside to gauge how bad, and it was not just gusty, but I could see the dust and pollen, (in my mind's eye.) So I stayed inside answering a difficult email re. weaving software, (i.e. politely saying I didn't understand what he was on about, and he needs to weave half a dozen warps so he can probably answer his own questions,) and an important-for-me blog post, which I'll finish after this. I didn't get around to one more thing I wanted to do, mixed media, but spent some time texting a dear friend with whom I once did a drawing exhibition; I'm going to be a lady who does lunches, again, next Tuesday. Also got an audience with Mom; she insisted we moved house second week in a row, but you all can still come see us at our "old" place.

Sorry to inundate you with yet another tulip pic, but such is our life now, (kind of like last year's tuis and kowhai,) and this won't be the last. This variety, I thought was white, but the far left bud has taken on a pale hue I hesitate to name. Because our patio is so windy, if I am to buy more next season, I think I'll go for shorter varieties.
Day 14+7+24, October 1. 19 new, Auckland; 1268 in the cluster; 260 active, 1007 recovered. Gusts were forecasts from around midday, so I told myself I was going out early to weed even for a little while, picking up where I left off on Tuesday. But I'm not a morning person and after I cleaned the kitchen in slow motion, and took care of some emails, it was after 11.30. And then I did some other stuff and the wind looked like it was picking up, and... I went outside.
I've been visualizing myself being a little old lady who likes to potter around the place. It's not working, because that little old lady doesn't have to get on her knees in the near-mud and dig up convolvulus roots. My gardening style is more angry combat operation. Anyway, it turned out to be a lovely day, no gust, sunny, almost hot, and I did clear another wee patch, even though it took about times as long as I had hoped. There was a couple of more hours of sunlight, but I called it quits because I was entering a tricky area. 
I prefer to weed in the late autumn and winter, when the soil is wet and temperature low; I like, for example, weeding on those cold days when it's snowing over the hills. Every autumn, I resolve to finish the worst of the weeding before August, before the wind and pollen come out. But this year I'm so behind, I've kept going amidst all that, and discovered something; after I clean up an area, I can put seeds in right away, because the soil is warm enough. So not all is lost. 
After I started to put away my tools and garden bags full of weeds, I noticed the sun was shining on one red camellia at the bottom of the shrub, behind the lime tree, behind the white sasanqua, under the cherry tree. I stood and admired it for a moment before I thought to grab the phone to show you, but by then the sun had moved on. 
See the top of the picnic table? If you go slightly to the right, about a quarter of the way towards the lime tree trunk, might see a wee spot of red, that's the top of the flower. Maybe another day. We are expecting rain on Monday, so we might put more plants and seeds in on the weekend.
Day 14+7+25, October 2. 27 new, Auckland; 1295 in the cluster; 226 active, 1068 recovered. Today started a little blustery, even though wind was forecast from midday, and I woke up with hay fever, severity 7/10ish. Although Ben and I agreed we'd do a few things in the garden I couldn't/don't want to do by myself, it's the weekend, so no rush. We discussed perfecting baking supermarket frozen croissant, had a few leisurely coffees while reviewing beans he ordered; I cleaned the kitchen, and made lime/ginger/choc chip cookies; and finally having used so much dried lime peels, set out to dry more. 

Except I couldn't find my peeler, so I wondered if I could use the butter curler. This is a special one; we were given this in 2017 by my parents' oldest friends Ron and Puff; we met in Minneapolis in 1961 when Ron and Dad were research fellows at the U, and R & P have known me longer than their own children. They were preparing to move out of their Melbourne house of over 50 years; it's especially precious because not only are they really serious foodies but they have ancestors who worked with food, including in grand mansions of England. 

Result? The peel is thicker and shorter but it will do the job. And I found mine. 

I was itching to go outside. By early afternoon, there was just the occasional pleasant breeze, sun was out, the day was turning into another beautiful one, but hey fever severity progressed to 9.5/10. I was ready to postpone everything to tomorrow, when I heard Ben outside. Without my asking, (boys, you have no idea how happy this makes your girls,) he proceeded to trim the apple tree, (the one I think is crab apple, but Ben thinks is Fuji, and I hate to admit but he is likely right from last year's tasting,) lime tree, and part of banksia growing straight into the red camellia. And just so I don't get bored, he gave me these. Not all are ripe, but they were on the branches he pruned and the peel is good. He wanted to prune a couple of more branches but he'll wait until I work through these and/or give some away.
Since around 4PM, it's been still and gorgeous, but I'm slightly woozy from hay fever meds, so I won't go out other than to see what a good job Ben did. And he did! It's one of those near-perfect Saturdays we plan all the time, but doesn't often have because we end up doing something else. 
Day 14+7+26, October 3. 33 new,  32 Auckland, 1 Waikato, plus one (?) discovered after the cut off this morning; 1328 in the cluster; 250 active, 1078 recovered. Sections of Waikato will be in Level 3 Wednesday to Sunday. The latest Waikato cases were apparently not vaccinated and possibly not genomically linked to Auckland cases. A truck driver from Auckland tested positive in Palmerston North in a routine essential worker testing scheme, apparently also unvaccinated. Prof Baker thinks this is the tip of the iceberg. There were large protests by a pseudo-religious anti-lockdown groups around the country as well. This all comes at a terrible time when we were expecting the nation to move down levels this week, and entry-into-NZ rules proposed to ease. And why the hell does Bloomfield continue to tell people to get tested, "if you have symptoms" ?????
I've been looking at Australian curves; Victoria has had stricter lockdown rules and went into one quickly, as opposed to the New South Wales' halfhearted government policy, and yet Vic's curve has followed NSW's pattern. A while back I saw NZ curve superimposed on this graph from an Australian source, and even the ever-worried I thought that's just Australia bringing us down; last night, though, I saw a revised version, and... yeah... nah... 
Rain is forecast almost all week next week, so we put three bight-colored osteospermums, lemon balm, and two packs of seeds in the ground where I weeded recently. This could be a wise or a stupid move because after I weed and trim, there is a lot of gap and the sun comes through, but as plants return to their default states, it's a shady, crowded area. As well, I've worked hard to make this wee patch a blue-and-purple-with-a-few-exceptional-exceptions area, but who am I kidding, we have a lot that needs to go in the ground, and there are gaps. Besides, seeds are better in the ground than in foil packets. We were both tired so we came in rather soon.

Cabinet meets tomorrow; Jacinda to announce next move at 4PM.
Day 14+7+27, October 4. 29 new, 18 Auckland, 1 Waikato, (three more after the cutoff to be included in tomorrow's numbers); 1357 in the cluster; 274 active, 1082 recovered. Positives include a newborn, whose father also tested positive. All out-of-Auckland cases, except the truck driver, have been linked to Auckland clusters; truckie's virus genome is still being sequenced. 
Auckland is plunging into a special, three-step move within Level 3 that only bureaucrats could dream up Wednesday. Jacinda said it's not political appeasement, but enhancing outdoor options as the weather warms up, (and a two-week school holidays started today,) while upping the vaccination rate. I'm sure people who make these rules believe that, but it's going to confuse a whole lot of people, including possibly police. Real press question: if under this rule, someone goes to a relative's house and has a lot of beer in the garden, can s/he go inside the house to use the loo? Jacinda's non-serious answer: the small-bladdered shouldn't stay so long. 
Special folks in Waikato remain in that special category announced yesterday, while the rest of us remain in Level 2. I forgot when the next assessment is, but probably next Monday. Who cares, I don't, do you? The government was between a rock and a hard place no matter what they said. I have a whole lot of virtual hugs to folks in Auckland. And if you haven't heard, spare a thought and send giant virtual hugs to the good citizens of Victoria, Australia, who have been in lockdown for the greatest umber of days. 

I can't believe how much enjoyment we are getting from the seven five-pack tulip bulbs. If you believe I'm posting pics ad nauseam, you should see my hard drive. Well, don't. I'm like your grandmother who carried a wallet with plastic concertina inserts full of grandbaby pics. Ben and I actually go outside at least half a dozen times a day inspecting and observing progress, and report back or show pics on our phones if we find something faintly new. I'm not sure if this would have been the case if we weren't in Level 2 (almost-pretend-unless-you're-a-business) lockdown. Coming up next is a short dark orange, followed by a short pink of some sort.  
Day 14+7+28, October 5. 24 new, Auckland 18, Waikato 6, one historical; 1381 in the cluster; 294 active, 1086 recovered. Jacinda said yesterday that Delta is looking for and finding the unvaccinated; the proportion of those hospitalized doubled in the last seven days. 
I have developped a habit of buying a takeaway meal for Ben whenever I have lunch in town with girlfriends. Poor guy works long hours, (some days,) at home; drops me off in town before rushing home to get back to work; worst case scenario, he has to come pick me up again. And our local eateries can do with one more meal order, I'm sure. It also makes me feel every so slightly less guilty about having a good time with girlfriends. So today, he got Pork Tamarind Quesadilla from Nicola's Cantina. Happy faces all around, after I had a leisurely lunch with Sam whom I hadn't seen in... we couldn't figure out when, but we remember the venue and members. A large arrangement was resting on the outside table at the back of Nicola's; it may be tidied and place on one of the large tables in the evening.

I must have had enough of Covid after yesterday's announcement. I suddenly remembered there are two local exhibitions at the start of the year to which I could submit something woven. I looked up the info right away and their due dates are five days apart, although the exhibitions are quite different. I started thinking about possible projects, and ended up working on the weaving software in bed. We'll see how this goes; I haven't submitted anything or exhibited since... umm... possibly 2012.  

With Auckland in Level 3-V1 or whatever, we'll still be in Level 2 so my diary will continue next week.