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.

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