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17 May 2020 @ 01:04 pm
Hi Friends, LJ Users, Nigerian Scammers, Russian Bots and sundry others!
Thanks for taking a moment to read my sticky post on friending.

On the whole, there's no need to friend me if you just want to read my fics, since they are posted unlocked. In fact, most of my locked posts are me ranting about the state of the world (usually from a politics or media slant) or some such.

Generally, I am a ready friender. If you friend me and you have entries in your livejournal or have commented on some of my posts, you can usually expect to be friended back, unless:
* There are no entries in your LJ.
* I do not recall us ever having 'spoken' online (given how selective my memory is, you should probably assume this.)
* Your LJ is written wholly in a language I do not speak (pretty much anything that is not English, or French or Italian (both of which I speak poorly), or German, Spanish, Latin, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Welsh or Irish (all of which I have a smattering of and enough reference books to get the gist.) (Though if your journal is in actual Latin as opposed to Lorem Ipsum, I will probably immediately friend you on principle.)
* Your journal consists of several entries a day concerning My Little Pony, school and whether your hair looks better in plaits, pigtails, or with a fringe pouf. You are probably adorable, but should not be subjected to my occasional flocked rants.

SO, if you've friended me (thanks!) and I've not friended you back, just drop a brief line saying 'Excuse me, oh vague and neglectful one, could you friend me back please?'

I can't guarantee that I will ever have time to be a good lj friend, but I will try and provide you with amusing content and I always try to read my whole flist. Well, the stuff before the cut at any rate.
01 January 2020 @ 04:42 pm
For me to keep track of!Collapse )
20 November 2014 @ 11:20 pm
Wrist still broken, though the bone has changed! Apparently the reason all the X-rays of the scaphoid looked inconclusive is because I broke the trapezium. Of course. Three X-rays and one CT scan later ...


Why yes, that cast does glow in the dark! Also, it has roughly trebled the diameter of my wrist. Ever so awkward for practically everything. Also, immobilised thumb and no grip. Can't even make rude gestures without an extraneous upright digit.

Putting on opaque tights/stockings with one hand is nearly impossible. This is unfortunate as my work wardrobe revolves around them. But I also own a lot of cotton leggings for easy cycling, so I have just substituted them in. Alas, they are only a little easier. Because they are essentially tights, you're meant to pull them on evenly up both sides at once. Do one side and the other tends to scrunch up on itself, which means you end up doing right three inches, left three inches, right three inches ...

In a moment of genius, I realised that if I bought LARGER leggings, they would be less tight! And it worked! Easy to get on! Except ...

Work bestie: 'Are you OK?'
Me: 'Yep, just pulling up my leggings.'
WB: 'Why do they keep falling down?'
Me: 'Don't ask ...'

Let us not speak of bras ... Alas, I am missing everything, but almost all typing hand is being saved for my Erised fic. Talk soon, only four more weeks!
03 November 2014 @ 10:01 pm
Saturday was hot. If you speak new money, it was 37 degrees, if you speak old, 98.6. I'd bunkered down the house to keep it cool, kept the cats in and battened down everything in the garden, as high winds were forecast.

But we needed food, so I checked the weather radar and thought I had just enough time to get to the shops and back before any storms developed. I probably would have if I hadn't stopped to chat to a friend. As it was, I came out of the deli into wind that must have been gusting at aroud 100km, because it was very hard to stay upright and the horizontal rain was a bit ouchie. Sensibly, I took shelter in the lee of the tattooist's and waited for the worst to go past.

I made it to the supermarket during a brief lull, cognisant that lightning was getting closer and that it's more sturdily built than the tattooist's. There I busied myself buying quorn and asparagus and a Jamie Oliver spiced pudding, because I have become a cliche since moving to the suburbs. (I jest not, Mr Brammers wants to buy a Volvo.)

I warned a few people not to leave as I was coming in, the remainder were paying enough attention not to even try. It howled. Lightning struck nearby and thunder shook the whole building, the gutters overflowed. And then it was gone.

I headed home quickly, aware that Sydney storms can be unpredictable, but it was sunny and barely spotting rain by the time I had walked the four minute trip.

And there were trees and powerlines down all up the street.

So I dropped off the groceries, grabbed my gloves and phone, and headed out. Neighbour One was waiting to get through to the State Emergency Services on his phone, I called the police on the local area command line to let them know they needed to block off the street to trucks: the trees were only across the pavements and gardens, Neighbours Two and Three had removed the one bough that had made it onto the road, but the lines had been lifted off the power poles on one side, and while cars and humans had clearance under them (happily, I didn't need to convince anyone that it would be a bad idea to actively walk under them, most Marrackvillains are sensible!), trucks did not.

The police arrived quickly and were fab, so the neighbourhood set then trotted off to clear what we could of a big tree down in a yard a few doors up. It was a eucalypt – they ALWAYS come down in winds, so never camp under one or plant one over 3 metres next to your house. My next-door neighbour, who wants us to cut down the lone pine in our garden, told everyone that he thought the pine was going to fall and that he had never seen a gum tree come down before. Being evil, I took the opportunity to let him know that the exact opposite set of beliefs were accurate, but I was nice about it and said I only knew because I had done a course. People always cope with you knowing something they don't if you've done a course.

I started to clear out the smaller bits of tree, so there would be less for the SES to have to do. Mr next-door told me to leave it to the men, because I would hurt myself. I told him I'd done a course on risk assessment and that if he would turn the branch he was hauling around, it would come more easily and not knock everything down as he took it up the drive. He listened to me only after he'd taken out a pot and a bench.

After twenty minutes, we were down to things that should not be touched, and Mr Next Door had finally been convinced that I made sense, so translated the need to wait for the SES to the Greek householders. I showed how only the fence would be damaged if the winds shifted the fallen tree more, and they were relieved. Mr Next Door followed me home, where Mr Brammers was finally ambling out (he assumes I will call him if he's needed.)

'Your wife takes command,' said Mr Next Door.

'Oh, she knows all about trees and emergencies,' said Mr B. 'She's from the country, and used to work for the Parks Service, where they make you take lots of courses.'

Mr Next Door seemed satisfied by this, and I managed not to roll my eyes.

Pride has its own set of aphorisms.

Yesterday, walking down Addison Road towards the market, this happened:


Broken scaphoid. Apparently I am fab in an actual emergency, incapable of walking down a slightly crap piece of pavement.
16 October 2014 @ 01:44 pm
Anyone on my flist in or near Okinawa? I may need to trek off for a week for work, which is on the one hand fab, YAY Japan! And on the other hand, I have limited money at the moment, am completely behind on everything, and really want to get back to the UK for a month and this is not helpful.

Meet-up would definitely sweeten the situation!
11 October 2014 @ 02:08 am
Still running round like headless chicken and finishing one fic (late) at the same time as working on another (not yet late!) (Anyone want to beta a shortish fic next week? Not if you're meant to be writing for anything!), BUT …

hp_reunion have announced their dates for a massive Get The Fandom Back Together Fest, November 1-16. You can read about the plans so far here>. BRILLIANT idea, though it looks like they could do with an H/D track, you know …

And Bloomsbury have decided we should have the international festival of Harry Potter Book Night, with a whole festival of THINGS next February 5 (I know it should be May 2, book people are crazycakes.) Check out the details and sign up for info here.

And if you're in Australia or New Zealand, you can win a family trip to London and a Harry Potter Tour by answering one simple question right here!

And now, shower and bed. I planted six roses and dug in 100kg of compost between 8.30 and 10.30 last night, wearing a head torch. I fear am going to be That Lady to the neighbours.

OOH! No, one quick anecdote first! Bus back from ukulele tonight was a DEBACLE, 45 minutes late, bunch of kids up the back playing their music very loudly. It was that blah misogynistic rap without even cleverness, musicality or genuine oppression to temper it. I was already eye-rollingly middle aged, and then just as I was getting ready to get off the bus, two of them started singing.

Now to get off the bus, I have to pick up my ukulele case (it's the concert uke, so a reasonably sized instrument in a good case), then I have to swing on my backpack full of music + work bits and grab my handbag and brolly. It's a little bit of a production. I had just done all this and made it down to the centre bus door, providing something for people in the front half of the back of the bus to look aimlessly at, when the singing started.

And it was bad. So very, very bad. And I have perfect pitch and sensitive ears, so there is a face I can't help pulling when things are horribly off key and I am not prepared for them. And I pulled it. And all those other people who had been sitting there silently thinking 'Would you bloody well turn that over to something that doesn't denigrate women in every second line?!' saw me pull it. And there was a surprising burst of laughter.

Bless the kids, they kept singing, because I minded that far less than the crap rap and you should still be allowed to sing even if you're shit, but one of their friends, in a friendly tone, announced, 'Dude, Music Lady judges you!'

I gave them a bright smile when they looked up, to encourage the singing to go on rather than the rap come back (even though I was getting off, I thought of the others), but it's true, I was judging. But I was very pleased to see that just as when I was their age and people would come out and say, 'The Happy Mondays are very good, yes, but it is two in the morning and you are in a city where people live and would you for the love of tiny bunnies shut the fuck up?!' and we would go 'Bloody old people!' but accept that they had a fair point, so too did this lot. Good old Yoof! Now I just need to get a USB stick loaded up with Happy Mondays and pass it over the next time I am in a situation like this. Or else Belgian rap, which is funny!
06 October 2014 @ 10:51 pm
It was a long weekend in Sydney. On the Saturday we went on a little night-time bushwalk with friends in the mountains to a glowworm cave, which was nothing short of delightful. It was particularly good to see how physically adept most of the kids in the group were and how open to Odd Things in the Outdoors. The one who wasn't was actively helped along by some of the others, which was lovely.

Yesterday, the rugby league team we sort of support (we don't really follow league, but they are Erskineville locals and were always so lovely when they were training at the oval or grabbing a kebab that we started to watch their games and cheer for them) won the premiership for the first time in 43 years. Their opponents were enormous, one of them looked like a polar bear, and for the first 65 or so minutes of the game it was very scary and could have gone either way. And then in the last quarter hour, the Rabbitohs went from securing the lead to streaming away to 'Chaps, are you still playing? The game is still on, you know.' I may have cheered quite loudly, which made this morning a little awkward when I realised my neighbours had bedecked their house with flags for the opposing, losing team.

They're still going to like us more than the previous person who lived here, he was a bastard.

Today I was catching up on the gardening. One of the biggest jobs was laying new pavers in the front yard, where there was originally a muddy path and where we've been making do with slabs of sandstone I just plonked down when we moved in.

Mr Brammers said that he was going out the back to read a book and let the cats have some outdoors time. I told him to keep an eye on the cats, as Rusketus had been eyeing off the Catproofing, looking for ways to thwart our efforts. Some half hour later I could hear a little chirruping miaow. I looked around and could see nothing. 'Have you got the cats?' I called down the side passage. 'It's fine,' came the reply.

I went back to digging in the concrete-like ground (the WORST soil: building waste, stones, cinders in one bit. HOW?! And full of onion weed …) and then heard the same sound. I looked up to see Ruus with his tail straight and high (the position that says 'I am cleverer than my humans! Hurrah!') trotting across the front garden towards the gate.

He had slipped through the catproofing at the side of the house, trotted down the passage to the gap under the neighbour's fence, squirmed through, made his way down to the front where he could hear me and offer commentary on my work, then squirmed through another gap to return to our garden.

The good news is that he does come when called, and since I had just dug a hole, things were relevant to his interests. He was extremely offended to be returned to the indoors. This was his face:

I suspect he is plotting my death. It will probably involve divebombing from the shelves beside the bed, and occur around 5am.
One day, quite soon, I hope, we will stop dealing with Moving Issues.

Last weekend was buying a new table, which we picked up secondhand. 'It came into the house like this …' the woman said. 'Are you sure?' I asked. 'I would have thought you'd have to take the door off.'* 'Oh no, no, no,' she said. 'Definitely not.'

So we spent ten minutes trying to get the table out. Mr Brammers came up with four possible strategies, thwarted only by reality. We then took the door off.

At this point – and you're wholly right that it should have been before – I said, 'If we have to take this door off, won't we have to take ours off, too?'

'Oh no,' Mr Brammers assured me, 'Our doors are wider.' This was a lie. But we didn't take the door off. We removed the side gate, instead.

We had one of my fave friends over for dinner at our new table on Monday, which was fabulous, despite the fact Mr B was in bed recovering from carrying a giant heavy table and knocking over and then rebuilding a giant heavy gate. That laid us low for much of the week and we only cooked a couple of meals and emptied a few boxes. So this weekend we were determined to do better.

We did! Garden centres were visited, half a tonne of buiding waste was shovelled out of the front garden and about 150kg of compost slathered on one bed, one more bed to go and then a whole new bed to dig over and form next weekend. Pots were potted, heavy things were lugged, and the cats' climbing hammocks were reassembled and placed against the side of the house in the conveniently hard-to-get-out-of back garden. And then we spent 15 minutes trying to get Rusketus off the roof.

You saw that coming, too, didn't you?

We're still a bit worn out, that's our excuse.

Exhaustion and overwork is also my excuse for missing so many birthdays lately.

tsosh, I miss you. I hope you had a splendid day yesterday and that this year has been kind to you, which you so thoroughly deserve.

gossymer, I hope you come back soon, I miss you, too! I hope you have been mugged by the present fairy!

sassy_cissa, I KNOW you were mugged by the present fairy. You're the loveliest person, thanks for bringing the light you do to fandom!

On the topic of which, birdsofshore, you are a fandom gem and you bring so much delight! I hope that you are having a spectacular day and that your cake levels are bordering on the ridiculous.

And it's possibly exactly the right time to say happy birthday to the wonderful meri_oddities. May gifts and cake and joy be even more dominant than usual in your life today.

Sorry to everyone I've missed in these chaotic months, I've thought of every one of you!

* When it comes to spatial awareness, I am staggeringly excellent with things, utterly rubbish with my own elbows.
16 September 2014 @ 12:31 am
Only a few dozen more boxes to go … I have no idea how we actually fit into the old house, and can only assume that we solved a complex physics problem involving space folding one weekend, but were too tired to write it up, then forgot about it.

The lovely illereyn popped over and took some glasses and magazines, it was fab to meet her, so clever and interesting! She met two of the cats, and was able to pay a heavy patting tax. Rusketus was having one of his Muppet afternoons and running around like a fox terrier on espresso. 'I've never seen a cat do that!' she exclaimed. 'Why is he doing it?' 'No-one knows,' I told her, 'and yet, do it he does.'

If anyone in Sydney wants old New Scientists or New Yorkers, or a nice set of teacups and saucers, let me know, all reclaimed space is good space! I'm keeping the psycho kitten, he's adorable in the five or six minutes a day he's not causing mayhem.

The weekend's other highpoint was a lovely long ride along the river. It was my first long ride for a while. I can still walk and sit down afterwards. Mostly. I was about 45 minutes in before I realised that the reason Mr B was leaving me for dead on the offroad bits was that I had swapped out my knobbly tyres for city slicks. He was unsympathetic, I sped off and left him once we got back onto pavement.

I was also swooped by a magpie! Mr B called my attention to it, just as I was riding ahead of him and it was swooping for the back of my head. This was not an intelligent decision on his part. Happily, the maggie was still a bit up in the air and he aborted his swopp when he saw me looking at him, rather than scratching out my eyes, which was the other option. I had a word with Mr Magpie (quite possibly Mrs Magpie) and he stopped swooping me – it really does work, if you talk to them in a calm and friendly voice, they leave you alone. He started swooping at Mr B instead, and Mr B was not calm and friendly. He's more of a cat person … We left Maggie to guard his tree and possible nest.

In more important news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, iamshadow! May your summers be cool, your winters warm, your fireplace cooperative and all your pets splendid. I know your girl will be super, so that's sorted. Here's to a year of things working easily and well for you both!

And also for kriscat, I think it was your fault I checked out Agents of Shield, good grief did that ever come together in an unexpectedly exciting way! A very happy day for you, may the present fairies sprain their wings lugging things to your door!
04 September 2014 @ 10:50 pm
Happy Birthday, montjoye! May all your brews be true and may you never be confused as to the vessel with the pestle!
04 September 2014 @ 01:29 am
We have moved.

Empires have been lost in less time and with fewer aching arms, I am convinced. If you live in Sydney and would like old cooking magazines, New Scientists or New Yorkers, do let me know, I apparently own a ridiculous amount. Let us not speak of the books. And the plants in heavy pots. Nor the actual weights, which I foolishly failed to factor into my thinking … 'Why does this box feel as though it weighs 30kg?? Oh. Because it has 30kg of iron. And a pillow. And a note saying "weights, heavy".'

Many things are still in boxes, which means I cannot find my spare wax for my Barbour, and after being thoroughly soaked several times while lugging heavy objects, it is in desperate need and I am a sulky cold grump, because the weather has turned awful again and it is my favourite coat and all the house is organised differently and there are no good local cafes and the one bus that I can get to work or anywhere really is simply a disaster.

On the upside, there is more actual room, the neighbours are lovely, and the natural environment is a massive improvement on Erskineville, with a lovely rock scree for scrambling up and down just a street back alongside a nice park with reading trees and a 'castle' and then the river with its long cycleways and huge parks only a quarter mile more down the road. There is a good cafe in one of the parks, only a mile and a bit away, and they sell jaffles and hot chocolate in winter, which is a very fine combination. And the organic market is on at the other end of Marrickville every Sunday, with delicious broadbeans and heritage carrots and salmon last week, and I will ride there this week to drop out the horror of the bus. There is a neighbourhood spare cat and we had a kingfisher sitting in the back garden, and all my hellebores and dendrobium orchids have bloomed to cheer me up, which is very thoughtful of them.

Cookie and Monster keep giving us the look of 'Well, this has been fun, but when are we putting everything back in our normal house and getting the cat run back?' Oh cats, I hear you. Building a new cat run is a high priority! And a garden. This house has a single cypress and 'lawn'. I'm thinking of viburnum for a hedge, but may need something faster growing if Mr Brammers wishes to continue his lifetime habit of no trousers unless there's company. Or, just wait till summer and let the neighbours opposite plant a hedge instead …

We have the big bookshelf in the bedroom in this house, it's about 2.5m at the top shelf, and I've not yet found all the history books that are meant to go on it, so Rusketus the kitten/cat keeps leaping onto it from the top of the giant dresser beside it and using it as a Place To Survey His Minions. This is all well and good when he goes back the same way, but last night we were lying in bed and watched him look at the dresser, look at the bed, then jump out into empty space.

I tell you, I have never been so grateful for the fact that I am often too slovenly to put away the spare duvet – he used it and the pile of clean blankets that I had carefully washed, dried and folded then not been arsed to get the stepladder to put away in the top drawers of the dresser as a crashmat and landed without a problem.

Why we decided to get the kitten whose life mission is to understand the workings of gravity is something I have never been clear on. 
21 August 2014 @ 01:33 am
Picture a short, dark-haired woman, smeared with dust and newsprint, with a right ankle roughly the size and shape of a softball (old injury, reminding me it hates me), a back that was great a month ago, less so now, bruises that make me look as though I have taken up some strange sport that involves throwing small, hard balls at one's limbs (not those balls) and STILL MORE BOXES OF MAGAZINES TO MOVE!!!!!!

Whatever you have in mind, I am grottier, tireder, and still coughing more like the heroine of a 19th century opera (I seem to have just avoided bronchitis, but all the dust means the post-viral cough has had free rein).

However, tonight, in the new house, we turned on the heater, the toaster, the electric kettle and the dryer ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It's been 14 years since we could do that without flipping a fuse breaker.

The cats are all a little weirded out, but coping; I am desperate to finish moving the last stuff so that I can sleep and sleep and sleep.

With this in mind, my birthday greetings for ravurian are woefully inadequate. You are a scholar and a gentleman, good sir, and as Katherine Hepburn would say: more power to you! I hope you have a fabulous year, and that we both find cause to say something nice about a politician over the next year. Oh, that's too unlikely, I hope some nice billionaire develops a mad crush on you instead.
14 August 2014 @ 02:04 am
Bad timing: mid conversation with a lot of interesting and lovely people, I am finishing up the move, on deadline for three mags at once and crawling back to health from Plague. Hope to be back tomorrow, if not, very shortly thereafter!

So sorry for my crapitude with birthdays and everything. I blame the kitten. Did I tell you about his successful escape the other week? He made another bid for freedom the other night and I had to crash tackle him at the door. SUCH a knee bruise! Though I suppose it's better on me than on the kitten …
12 August 2014 @ 11:23 pm
This post discusses mental illness and the death of Robin Williams.

Like many people, I've spent the last 12 and a bit hours feeling a loss. Brilliantly talented people are rare, and their work lifts us as a culture. Sometimes it lifts us as human beings. Sometimes, as with all the laughter Robin Williams provoked, it just lifts our days.

So when the news of his death came across this morning, we stopped getting ready for work here and felt what we would both now miss, and then felt even sadder as we remembered his children and his wife.

And then the newsreader said 'It's believed Williams committed suicide. He had struggled with depression and alcoholism.'

And he didn't have a voice of judgement, and he sounded sad, too, and he was about a million times better than those dickheads over at Fox News, but at the same time, I thought, 'But that's not how you would have said it if he had cancer.'

Because the thing I've realised is that we have a different public language for mental illness and for 'real illness'.

In the main evening news, the presenter had different language. She said, 'Robin Williams has passed away after a long battle with depression.' And I thought, yes, that's it, because mental illness is like cancer.

It's exactly like it. Some cancers and some mental illnesses are discrete – they take up a certain space, are treated and then are gone. They are something you had, but that are now over and done with. After them, you treat yourself a little more kindly: eat more organic food, go for a run or a walk every day, work a little less, live a little more.

Others are ones people live with. You need treatment, and you need to keep watch, to make sure it's behaving, that it's keeping to the limits you can live with and letting you lead your life around it. You still have so much life around it, you just need to be vigilant, and to jump on top of things quickly if it ever looks as though it might be getting the upper hand. You can live a life like that, you can live a great and long life like that.

Then there are the ones that go to war with you. The treatment will be liike a battle, but you can face it down, you can win. And maybe you do win. Or maybe you win once, twice, a dozen times, but lose in the end, because it came back stronger, or because you were worn out. But you fight for as long as you need to, because that's what we do, and if you run out of strength before you run out of disease, the people who loved you will understand.

And then there are the diseases that devastate, that destroy swiftly and wholly and leave you astonished as to how your body could have turned on you like this and that leave your friends and family floundering, lost, because you were just here, and now you're gone.

And when any of these ARE cancer, we have this whole public language that we trot out. He fought bravely. She struggled for many years. He succumbed at last. She was suddenly struck down.

But when it's mental illness of any sort, he is said to have taken his own life. Police on the scene say there were no suspicious circumstances to her death. He committed suicide. She was found alone with empty pill bottles, viewers who are distressed by this information should call …

As a professional journalist, you receive training. For a long time they told us, 'Never say suicide. It encourages others to copycat.' But at the same time, we were told, 'And when a famous person has or dies from cancer, the one good thing is that you can encourage a massive spike in screening and treatment by providing health information with the story.' In a moment of deep common sense, a few years back some of the major mental health groups went out and spread the message – 'We have screening, too!  We have symptoms people should look out for, we have helplines they can call, we have systems that can save.'

And those messages do save: we know for a fact that people call the helplines listed at the end of news stories, and they get help, and many nip their illness early, before it can grow strong.

But I am left wondering: why do we have the different languages? Why do we have one way of talking about all the things that go wrong with the body outside the brain, and another for most of the things that happen inside it?

I had a friend who thought she was going mad. She found out she had a brain tumour. She was relieved. What kind of world is this that brain cancer was preferable? It's a question she asked later, cognizant of the fact that her diagnosis had come with words like 'operable', 'curable' and 'early', but in honesty, she said that she understood cancer, she knew what the support networks were, she knew her friends would stand by her with cancer.

I think we need to start thinking of mental illness as just illness. It's like cancer, it's like heart disease, it's like the flu. It's like so many other things that we are less scared of, and that make us less frightening to other people. I think we need to do this so that we remember that it IS an illness, and that people suffering from whatever form of it need funded and accessible help, and ongoing care, and support, and that if they die of it, they die of the disease – not by choice, or despair, or 'cowardice' (you're so predictably awful, Fox News), but simply because they were sick.

Because if we remember that it is illness, people are faster to seek help. And doctors are more straightforward in what they look for and what they can offer as treatment. And all of the employment entitlements that come with being sick will be there, and there will be less fear.

And there will be less to be frightened of.
01 August 2014 @ 01:24 am
Reading the Harry Potter books will help to make you a more tolerant human being, according to this story.

In other news, moving is awful, but better than so many other things happening in the world that comparatively it is fine. Let us not talk about the landlord, who may yet end up being taken to the tribunal. And my plague has come over all mediaeval, but after a third day in bed, I think I have turned the corner. Which is a relief, because the alternative was tremendously 14th century.

One day some brilliant person will come up with an important engineering application for snot, and my unwanted superpower of mucous will earn me a FORTUNE. Until then, I am going to have to plant three trees in a bid to balance out all these tissues …
28 July 2014 @ 12:02 am
It started on Friday: what felt like the entirety of a cold descending upon me in 30 minutes. I bargained with my body: 'Body,' I said, 'this is moving weekend. You need to be in tip-top form! None of this near-death for you!'

'I don't feel at all well,' my body replied.

The magnificent editorial assistant of fandom excellence (who is going to be in Florida in a few months – all tips re Harry Potter tourism will be gratefully received) dragged me out of the building to look at Harry Potter pyjamas. In a febrile fit, I managed not to buy a Hogwarts sleeping shirt (old gym gear will keep me in cold weather sleepwear for at least the next three years!), but I did buy the first two series of Once Upon a Time, and I am not ashamed! At the end of my wander round the shops and a spot of lunch, I had perked so considerably that I began to hope I had dodged the lurgy.

I had not dodged the lurgy.

Saturday saw me wake without a voice. We had to take the train up to the mountains to borrow a car from my magnificent boss, I sat and shivered and read Caitlin Moran's new novel (startling amounts of masturbation, on the whole funny, convincing and very Decent Human) on the train up and then peered anxiously through walls of rain on the drive back down.

Happily we got back to a sunnier city than the one we had left, and picked up the keys without incident.

And drove the first carload of bags and boxes to the new house.

And were horrified.

There was one thing wrong with this house when we inspected it: one of its rooms had been remade into a sound studio, with thick insulation on the walls. We had an agreement that this would be fixed before we moved in.

It's now worse. The landlord's own condition report lists the state of the walls as 'stained, scuffed, mouldy …'

The good news is that NSW law is very clear and that a mouldy premises is a clear violation of the tenancy agreement on the part of the landlord. There is ample precendent for this situation, all of which agrees that the tenants can walk away if the problem isn't fixed. So I have written to the agents and sent photos, expressing disappointment and dissatisfaction and asking that the situation be remedied and the room re-walled (it's just painted plasterboard, so this is not a huge expense). I'll also compromise and take a rent reduction and agreement that we can remedy the situation ourselves. Otherwise, we're back to bloody house hunting! ARGH!

Hoping for the best, we took some more boxes over today. At one point, I noticed that Mr B had left both the front door and the gate of our current house open. I shut the door and ran through the house conducting a quick cat census. Two girl cats. No boy kitten cat. I looked in the cat run. I looked through the house again. Mr B came back in and I whispered to him that Rusketus was revisting his Houdini impersonations. He told me that there was no way the cat could have got past him and went to find him.

Five minutes later, he accepted that there was indeed a way, and that Ruus had found it. He then abandoned me to take another carload over to the new house. I did a few laps of the front lane, talking to several pedestrians and a cyclist. This was made more difficult by me not having a voice.  A man walked by with two big dogs: I consoled myself with the fact they looked like nice big dogs … I peered into my neighbours' yards, no neighbours and no kitten. I checked the Thai takeaway on the corner, where cats have been known to beg for chicken. I squinted at the road and the railway: no still grey-and-tan forms.

Accepting he was lost, I went over to the vet to report him missing. We do have a good system here, and microchipped cats are often returned. The vet nurse was reassuring and talked me through the report steps, then suggested I walk the whole block and doorknock as many people as possible so the word would spread and more sets of eyes would be looking. This was my plan, but as I walked back to start, I saw a jaunty little creature padding his way up through the nature strip that borders the railway, very pleased with himself.

'Ruus!' I whispered. 'Come here and have a cuddle!' There followed a few minutes of muppetry, which ended in him being caught. I decided to shut the gate as I brought him in, he took advantage of my one-armed hold to fling himself upside-down and sink his rear claws into my face.

I can apparently whisper 'You fiendish little fucker!' really loudly. The nice lad walking past was very sympathetic.

To top things off, last night, laryngitis morphed into ghastly plague, so I have spent the whole day packing, shaking, writing cross but reasonable letters and berating myself for not spending less over the last 10 years as I could easily have bought a house with what I have spent on travel, books and quality moisturiser alone. Well, at least a third of a decent house in Sydney, but a whole house in Tasmania or parts of the mountains!
21 July 2014 @ 12:54 am
I have a lot of complex analysis to offer on current world events, but most of it boils down to this classic sign:
In other news, we have a house! It's, er, odd. It's weatherboard, which will be a first for me, but it is large and light and has a massive covered deck at the back. Or, as I refer to it, my future tapdancing studio. It might be fabulous or we might be moving again in a year. I have an agreement that next house WILL be an Edwardian treasure. We move next week, I apologise in advance for the whining.

In other other news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY queerbychoice! I hope that this year is nothing like last year. May you be surrounded only by sane people and may all your plants thrive.

Happy birthday, too, to ellie_nor. I hope that all the present fairies are catching a cab to your place, too laden down to fly!
10 July 2014 @ 12:33 am
Happy Birthday, nenne! Your life always sounds so full of joy and love, and I hope that today is especially so! I hope that this year is splendid for you, you delightful human of insight and kindness!

You would be dying of laughter at me today: it is 12 degrees C and I am freezing. Oh, for a Scandinavian house with insulation and draughtproofing!

09 July 2014 @ 02:03 am
A far too quick for the pages of love she deserves Happy Birthday to oldenuf2nb! From the first time I met you, I was pleased to know you and that has naver changed. You are so talented, kind and brilliant. I hope this birthday is one of your best and heralds a year of things going exactly as you want them to or only enchantingly awry for you and those you love.

And now to bed. Two hours late. Because we noticed there were some new local houses listed, so we donned coats, gloves and beanies (it is actually cold in Sydney at the moment!), stealthed our way to a few nearby addresses, then enacted the ritual of me standing with one hand up at one end point of a structure, while Mr B stood at the other and shone the glowing red dot of a laser measuring device at my hand.

We had done this twice when I caught his eye and saw him starting to giggle. 'That's right,' I said. 'We are hardcore. Nighttime Ninja househunters!'

And then we had to run away before anyone thought we were either burglars or assassins. Or, more likely, he woke them with the cackling.

One prospective is 40m from here. We could finally move via handtrolley and cargo bike, which has been a lifelong dream of mine! Soon. Soon it will be done!
05 July 2014 @ 06:14 pm
We had plans to be in Canberra this weekend. Alas, househunting it was! But only three, because we had pre-culled our list of potentials.

The first place ticked a lot of boxes: quiet streets, four minutes from the train, three minutes from the bus, lovely big verandah to sit on at the front, sunny garden at back, front and side, plain but large rooms. The current tenants were still there and we had just started to chat with them about their magnificent dog when a plane went overhead. The house shook. We looked at each other with a wild surmise, silent upon a peak in … no, hang on, with abject horror. Yes, that's the one.

Seeing our expression, he leaned forward and whispered, 'ALL DAY!' His partner checked to see the agent was well out of earshot and added, 'And the next-door neighbours shriek and stomp.'

'Oh dear,' I said. 'We are a quiet people …'

'Us too,' they replied. 'That's why we're moving.'

So no to that house, but I would have loved to take the dog: Great Dane crossed with black laborador. Huge and huggy!

The next house was brilliant. Classic Edwardian with leadlight glass, mouldings and railings throughout. Good garden filled with epiphytes and woodland plants. Small kitchen and bathroom, but wholly usable, second lavatory, a glassed-in verandah at the front that would be perfect for the cats, a mad warren of rooms that would fit in all our bookshelves and allow for everyone to have space for everything – and every one had doors opening onto each adjacent door, so endless games of Find the Cats or Human. There was even a massive reception hall, which baffled Mr Brammers: 'Why is this room tiled?' 'It's a reception.' 'What do you do in a reception?' 'It, er, receives!' Now that I think on it, they are not an Australian 'thing'. But ample room for three or four bikes on top of everything else!

The one downside: transport. The nearest train station is a 17-minute walk, with the nearest shops a minute beforehand. I know this sounds like nothing to most people, but we don't have a car, and on days when my foot is bad, anything over 10 minutes at a time can be a bit of a struggle. Normally I would just ride, but it is on a very busy street, without straightforward alternatives.

I'm still on the fence about that one, though Mr Brammers has it as a no. But there were several couples with young children there who would adore growing up in such a crazy, wonderful home. If we decide against it, I hope it goes to one of them! Especially to the nice ones who clued us in to the presence of the Light Rail nearby.

Mr Brammers later took said Light Rail out to look at the outside of another house near that one. 'Let me know how it goes,' I said. 'Maybe it will mean the crazy house is possible?' He texted me shortly after. The tram he was on had broken down. Oops.

Today's third option was clearly designed for Oompa-Loompas, as the stairs were too small for even my feet. Easy no.

I have found the perfect place in theory, but it is yet to be shown and we have no details for its opening days. I am, therefore, acting as though there is no hope of us getting it. Obviously, I am still hoping like wild!

And now, off to pack a few more boxes. Oh my fascinating life!! (I am so sorry! I promise to write something interesting as soon as things are more sorted!)