23 December 2013

Nearly Christmas

It's Christmas Eve Eve and I am at home watching the Toy Story Halloween special  - odd time to put it on TV but cartoons are always good. I have been working quite a lot, today was my day off and then I will be working right through Christmas. But apparently they feed us well and we get time and a half, and days in lieu. It's been nice and sunny here, I got sunburnt on my day off last week and it still hurts. I bought Cher a paddling pool to keep her cool and at first she wouldn't go near it, thought it was some sort of trick. Understandable considering that the day before I had to hose her down after she put her face into a mud puddle. But after throwing her toys into the water for a couple of days she finally got used to the idea of the paddling pool, now she gets in after every walk and splashes around for a bit. I know she's spoiled, but today a dog at the park had a go at her and left her with a bleeding ear so she deserves treats.

Today I spent time cleaning my house so that it's nice for Christmas, and made a cheesecake. Presents arrived from Invercargill and now my little Christmas tree looks very happy. I am supposed to be finishing another academic publication but it's really hard to find time - there are other things that need to be done on my day off, so it will just have be a slow effort. I work on it in my lunchbreaks instead, so that I don't feel like I'm completely neglecting it. If I'm going to do work on my days off I would rather look for jobs. There are a few being advertised at the moment that definitely apply to me, and surely more will come up. It would be good to have a job that makes use of some of my very drawn out tertiary education.

In other news, there was a huge bug in my kitchen the other night. I looked it up later and found out it was a huhu beetle. I thought that might be it, and it came in the open kitchen window on a hot night, because the light was on in the kitchen, so it clearly wasn't going to just go back out again of it's own accord. It was up high so even if I had the courage I couldn't have caught it. I tried turning the light off and shining a torch outside to encourage it out but it just fell down into my dishes. So then I really couldn't deal with it (did I mention that it was really late at night) so I grabbed the fly spray, but it seems so horrible and also, maybe it would have flown towards me. So in the end I grabbed the vacuum cleaner and sucked the poor thing up. It was so big that I felt it go up the tube, which made me scream and drop it. Then I left it running for a few minutes just to be sure, and now the vacuum is sitting in the wash house because I'm wary of emptying the bag just in case.

30 November 2013

Trip to UK and leaving Ireland

Let's start with leaving Ireland because that is what is at the top of my mind right now. I am sitting at the gate waiting and I have a terrible headache, perhaps because of several late nights and perhaps because of smelling too many duty free perfumes. I was going to buy alcohol with the last of my euro but luckily the lady at the till informed me that you can't actually take duty-free alcohol through transit in Abu Dhabi because there is an extra security check just before the gate and all alcohol over 100 mL not purchased in their own airport will get confiscated. How rude is that?!?! Isn't that the point of duty free? I was so pissed off. But now I just have a headache which has turned anger into self-pity. At least I got the mascara I wanted.

My trip to the UK was really good. I was only in London for 24 hours, and this is the third time I've been, but this time I was there visiting a friend so it was a completely different sort of trip. There was food and drink, lots of talking, seeing the dinosaur display at the Natural History Museum and then going to the Winter Wonderland Christmas market and eating too much, and going on a ride that featured being strapped into chairs and swung up into the air and hurtling towards the ground upside down really fast. It was terrifying and I screamed a lot. After we had seen the Christmas markets we walked through the city, visited the really big toy store, and some other shops. But I am no longer used to be a tourist so by the end of they day my feet were killing me. I made it to my next train on time and it was time to go to Wales.

My trip to Wales was much quieter, less footing it through a crowded city and more scenic drives, small town shops and really old castles. I bought lots of little things (I did in London too) but I only had my phone camera with me and the weather was foul so the pictures to remember my first visit to Wales aren't great. On my second day there we went to a spa in a hotel and hung out in the steam and sauna rooms, then had facials. It was really good. There was of course also lots of catching up with friends, the type that involves too much food and drink and late nights talking about stuff. Hopefully I am now tired enough to sleep lots on both plane rides.

Pictures are coming, when I'm back home and have better internet. For now I have about 30 hours of travel to get through.

Quick update from Abu Dhabi - the airport here really sucks! It is so crowded, despite being so new it is not big enough for the number of people they try to put through transit. To get through the security check for the terminal there was a huge line, thousands of people. And at first it seemed like there was a huge line for no reason, there was no sign saying why we were queueing, and some people were skipping the queue so I did too, only to find that the traffic jam was due to people being herded into the security check area and there were guards at the barriers. But I didn't want to go back so I waited till they weren't looking and ducked under a barrier. Luckily I didn't get caught. Going through the security check was easy and fast, didn't even have to take out my laptop or the perfume I'd bought - but just because that got through, it was probably still wise to not chance it with a bottle of booze. That probably would have been stopped. And the only reason they don't let you have it? So you shop at their shops instead, they sell just as much booze as everywhere else. After security it was still crowded, until I made it through duty free and got to the gate. Which isn't open yet and there is nowhere to sit until it is open. Plus people are lining up already. It's all just so stupid, and I am so tired. I hope this next flight is not awful.

26 November 2013

Leaving Ireland

I'm in Dublin airport with 20 minutes to wait until I go to my boarding gate. The last week has been mostly uneventful, except for the fact that I finished my thesis corrections, got my thesis re-printed and properly bound and handed in for the final time. Here's the proof:

I spent the rest of my time trying to spend time with my friends and trying to buy good presents for my dog-sitters. I also watched quite a lot of tv, read a book (The Book Thief) and wandered around Galway for the last time. By the time my next trip to Europe finally rolls around it's unlikely that any of my friends will still be in Galway, so it will be new destinations for me. Though if it were summer and warm I would consider a brief visit.

Now I am at the airport, eating soup for lunch because airport food is so pricey that I couldn't find anything else to match the amount of euro left in my purse. It's not good soup either, it's carrot and orange, and far too orangey. I will have to make up for it by finding something good to eat when I get to London. Hopefully we will find fun things to do to fill in my 24 hours in London, then it is off to Wales, where I have never been before. I will make sure to find some interesting stories to tell, but for right now I need to finish my lunch, go to my gate, and try to fit my laptop and handbag into my small suitcase, because the budget airline here will only let you take on a single item - even though it's the same weight of stuff on the plane and you keep your handbag under your seat and not in the luggage compartments. Once I was holding my book because I had been reading while I waited, and would be reading again when I sat down, and they made me stuff it into my bag, even though I took it straight back out when I got on the plan! What futile bureaucracy is that?!

Anyway, here is a final glimpse of the Claddagh in Galway city, cloudy and grey as usual.

19 November 2013

Introducing Dr Jaimie

This morning was my Viva Voce. I had to nervously defend my thesis for three hours, and despite knowing that it was certain to pass, it was still scary. They asked me unexpected questions, some of which I probably messed up. They did not focus on the places that I thought were weak, but found other new ones instead. At the end they simply tell you that you have been awarded a pass and basically now have your PhD, which is a bit of anticlimax after all those years. I have a few small corrections to make, which I hope to complete in a day, then I need to get it signed off on, print it and hand it in to the university. Finally, in a month or so I will be posted the big certificate itself and I will frame it and put it on my wall. I will probably never look inside my thesis again after it is printed. And that's it, the end of four years.

For the rest of the week I will focus on fixing the few mistakes that the examiners asked to be corrected and then getting the thesis printed and bound. I would quite like to see it bound before I go, take a photo maybe, so that I have proper closure. When I go home I will still have more papers to try and publish but the worst of everything is over. Now the next big step is to find a real job, the sort that uses my brain and knowledge a bit more. But I have time for that, things will move forward eventually. Hopefully before my money runs out though. And despite being on a budget I am turning the last of my trip into a holiday and going over to the UK - luckily that was the plan already because with so few corrections I will have nothing else to do here. It is Tuesday afternoon here so I will be back in Wellington in just under two weeks, ready to get straight back into work so that I don't go bankrupt, and also ready to enjoy some proper sunshine and warm weather, because today it is icy cold here in Galway!

14 November 2013

Back in Galway

In all the ways that count, Galway has not changed at all. It is still cold, grey and wet. It is not even 4 pm and the light is already going, and I am bulked up in layers of clothes. However, it is not as bad as it was when I lived here, so I guess the world just saved the out-of-the-ordinary extremely cold winters for me and then stopped all that nonsense when I left. In Wellington it is mostly sunny and the temperatures are getting higher, but I am missing out. I'm also somewhat bored here, as I still have four days until my viva and I'm not really sure what to do to prepare. It is odd being a student again, sitting around reading things and working on my computer doesn't really feel like work anymore. Back home my flat is probably just fine but my garden might be dying of thirst as it doesn't really get much rain. Cher is at a kennel, a good fancy one out of town, and tomorrow she will be picked up by my brother and hopefully the shared-care plan I made works out otherwise certain dog-sitters will end up rather unhappy. And I hope that someone takes photos to send back to me so that I can stop worrying that she is depressed and pining away.

The problem with being bored in Galway is that I'm quite tempted to go shopping and buy things even though I know I need to be on a budget. I have already started, because I was cold and things were on sale, so I bought a fluffy Christmas jumper and a warm hat with a ridiculously large pom-pom. But I'm so tempted to go out and find another pair of the boots that I used to love before Cher ate them, and to stock up on clothing brands that I know we don't have at home. Plus I like to have lots of choices in what to wear in the morning, and while I think I packed far too many warm jumpers, I definitely didn't pack enough winter dresses/skirts. Plus I need to buy people presents of course, especially those people helping out with Cher. This trip is definitely going to be dangerous for my bank account. To add to all of that, I'm spending the last few days of my trip in the UK, visiting a friend in London first and then another in Wales. In London we might go see a show, and maybe we will go shopping (because I seem to have a bit of a buying-things problem). In Wales I don't know what we'll do but I'm sure it will be fun. Plus I have never been to Wales before so I'll get to see new places.

But for now I will find some way to spend the rest of the afternoon, as I think I have run out of proper focus and motivation for the day. I'm back in my old office, in my old building, and it is very odd to be here.

06 November 2013

Back to Ireland

I leave for Ireland very early Friday morning and the flight is going to be long. I haven't packed yet, I am putting it off just like I have put the whole thing off. I haven't looked at my thesis since I handed it in, and I haven't begun working on the manuscript for the next paper that we are intending to publish. That part is definitely a problem considering that it is supposed to be submitted before my exam on the 19th. The exam is also a pretty big problem, considering that I have no idea if I'm ready for it or not. At least I finally organised what to do with Cher - she will go into a boarding kennel for some of the time, but it is a good one, and she will be looked after by friends for the rest of the time. All in all I will be away for 25 days. I only hope that work stuff isn't too horrible so that I can enjoy seeing my friends that I haven't seen for a year. I even plan on going over to Wales for the first time ever. And doing some shopping to stock up on my favourite brands.

Luckily, I managed to arrange my trip to occur after my birthday. Despite all the stress of having to go back and finish my PhD, I managed to have a good birthday, there was pizza, there was cake (really delicious cake) and there were fireworks. Not really big ones, because they postponed the proper city fireworks till the weekend when I will be gone. So a box of fireworks from the Warehouse, though if I had gone later in the day it probably would have been cheaper, and it was actually the first time I've had home fireworks in years and years, so they seemed pretty good. And that was it, nothing major, another birthday, and luckily it was yesterday and not today because today is horrible, it is so wet and cold that I didn't even take the poor dog for a second walk, and looking out my window earlier I couldn't actually see anything because the clouds were so low around the hill that I live on.

Anyway, I really should make an effort to start packing, so time to go now, and leave you with a picture of a duck waiting patiently at the lights to cross the road:

26 October 2013

Life is hectic

Today I am mostly relaxing away my day off, yet it can't be entirely relaxed because I have a lot to do before going to Ireland in two weeks. Yep, two weeks, how sudden is that? The tickets are booked, over 30 hours each way, then I have just over a week after I arrive to get prepared before my exam. That's actually a good thing because I don't have time to prepare before I go. I have to finish my publishing diploma module before I go, which is what I need to do on my days off this week, and my supervisor thinks we can publish another paper before the exam. Which is crazy, especially the idea that I get the draft to her as soon as possible. I work almost full time, I can't just churn out an academic paper in two weeks on top of that. I also need to organise with my friends over there who I am going to stay with, I need to organise with friends here who can look after Cher, and I need to make sure that there will be enough money in my bank account to cover the bills while I am gone and not working, and cover my spending while in Ireland. It's going to be rough. So to add to all that my washing machine broke and I'm about to buy another one. I wanted to get a new one anyway, but I was thinking in about a year, not immediately. I thought my secondhand one would do for a year because they usually do. Perhaps we got unlucky or perhaps we somehow treated it bad? Anyway, luckily it's labour weekend and there are big sales. I will buy it from Harvey Norman because the guy there does a really good job of selling things to me - even has me half convinced to spend way over my budget in order to get a front-loader. I shouldn't though, nothing wrong with a top-loader. Even then I will have to put it on my credit card and just figure it out later; I can't spend my actual money on it just in case the trip to Ireland really screws my finances up. So, long story short, as you can see life is pretty crazy right now.

On a different note, just quickly before I get up and go knock on my neighbour's door to get my washing because she has been so kind as to let me use her machine (lucky that because I just ran out of clean socks), I will tell a Cher story. Yesterday evening I took her for a walk and the weather had improved to become a nice day so we were having a nice walk, except right at the end on the way home we came across another dog which turned out to not be so nice. I put Cher on the leash and I asked the guy with the other dog if it was friendly and he didn't say no and pull it away, so I was pretty shocked when it attacked my poor dog and took a chunk of fur off her back. Perhaps it wasn't his dog or something, but he should have known that the dog he was walking was reactive like that. Poor Cher yelped and cried and then jumped all over me to make herself feel better. Then today we came across another unknown dog and instead of wanting to meet it properly she was quite reserved, so she must remember getting a scare yesterday. She's fine of course, but it wasn't a very nice way to end our walk. At least the start of the walk was good, Cher even found half a tree to drag around:

13 October 2013

Next big thing: PhD exam

To finish my PhD, I have to do an exam. It is called the viva voce and is an oral defense exam that can last hours, although hopefully mine won't. One of my examiners will be from my university, and was one of the committee members for my PhD. The other is another adhesive researcher, who was my host for my short stay in Belgium a couple of years ago and is a co-author on my published paper. So the examiners are both good and not scary, but the exam itself is another kettle of fish. It will surely be fine, unless the examiners don't think my thesis and research are up to standard. Plus there's the fact that I was sure I would be able to do the exam via conference call - surely that sort of thing is pretty standard these days? Turns out that is not the case, or at least not where my supervisor is concerned. However, I don't have the money to fly to Ireland. You would think that would an end to the idea of doing the exam in person, but as of Friday morning it looks like I'm heading back to Ireland. It's not confirmed yet and the dates are not certain but somehow the research grant will pay for the flights. So perhaps as soon as one month I will fly to Ireland to do the exam and make any corrections that are required, and hopefully put together the last publications from my research.

So hopefully I will only be away for three weeks. I know it sounds like a good deal, a paid flight to Ireland, but it's not. I didn't want to do the exam in person, I can't afford to have a holiday right now, to be away from work and have no income, plus I'm worried about the flat in my absence, and what to do with Cher. Yes, it will be great to see my friends, but it is also possible that I will not have much free time to spend with them. I look forward to stocking up on my favourite European brands, but of course that doesn't really help the no income while away in Ireland thing. And it will be cold over there. Although the upside to that is that when I come back it will seem extra warm here. It's just a real nuisance to turn my life upside down right now, and it is so soon that it interferes with plans that I already had. Like I had been planning on heading down south for a visit at the start of December, but now I will not be able to afford to take time off work for that, after taking time off to go to Ireland. So looks like I won't be back till after Christmas. Oh well, at least it should be warm down there by then. 

04 October 2013

Life after thesis

Has it been two weeks since I sent my thesis away? It's hard to tell, time is still flying by so fast. I haven't really been doing that much, although I have loads on my list of things to do. The most important is yet more study; I really need to catch up on my publishing diploma. I haven't had many days off of work to focus on it, but truth be told, I can mostly just make it up as I go along. I just need to get focused. But it is so nice to be able to spend my days off doing whatever I want. I take Cher on big walks, I have made a veggie garden, I cleaned the house, I've been cooking and baking. But mostly I want to lie around and watch tv and sleep. Work really gets in the way, but I have to somehow be motivated enough to want to work, so that I have enough money to keep paying the bills and eating. This working hard for money thing really sucks. It's not like I have a bad job, I really like it, and I love the lack of stress and responsibility. It's just that I would rather have more free time. I hate leaving Cher home alone all day, and I still haven't had time to finish my book or start sewing again or finish making my house nice. 

Speaking of Cher, I will tell one story before I retreat to bed for the night. In the mornings we walk to the dog park and walk with other dogs; they generally all play together and mostly get on well. Lately Cher has been joining another dog in chasing a ball, and for the most part they seemed fine, even though he was quite possessive over his ball. But the other day, after about half an hour, I guess Cher got sick of this other little dog having a go at her as they both raced for the ball. Next thing we knew, they were really going at it and neither would give in; unless you've seen your dog getting carried away with a fight you have no idea how scary it is. Cher is bigger and had the other dog pinned down but he wouldn't give in, and I thought she had torn a huge hole in his neck because his red collar looked like an open wound. We had to hit them and pry their jaws apart to separated them and they both came away bleeding, though neither seemed to notice or to realise that they had been behaving badlly. It was time to go home anyway so we managed to drag our dogs away, but Cher's ear was bleeding quite a lot and she kept shaking her head, so she ended up looking really fierce with blood all over her head and cheek. I got her home and cleaned her up and put honey on it because it's supposed to be antibacterial. When she was finally settled on the couch she seemed to realise what she had done and that she was hurt, and then she looked so pathetic and sorry for herself all day. She is fine though, and her ear is all better now. But they don't get to play fetch together anymore, it's just too risky. Right now she's sleeping on the couch under my legs and she will not be impressed that I have full days of work for the next three days.

To end on a lighter note, every nice day that I walk Cher I notice what a great view I have. I'm only about a 5 or 10 minute drive from the city, yet from my house you can see bush and hills and ocean, and walking the dog is almost like not being in a city at all. This was my view yesterday morning, first of Owhiro Bay and the dog park, then Island Bay, then Wellington city:

20 September 2013

Finishing my PhD thesis

Well how long has it been since I have written here? Has it been a month or more? Well I'm really sorry, but I was busy - with work, with my thesis, and with being exhausted. But now it is over! I finished the full draft of my thesis last week and this week has been proofreading. Just now I sent the file to the printer in Galway and it will be handed in within a week, whenever the form that I had to sign arrives over there in the post. So it's pretty much over and for the next couple of weeks I will not think about it at all. This blog is not the only thing that has been neglected this last wee while - I haven't done any housework, I have hardly contacted my friends, I have forgotten people's birthdays and I have not been working on my publishing diploma. So now I have time to rest and to do whatever I want for awhile, then it will be time to arrange the defense exam and prepare for that. Hopefully there will be no corrections and it will just be all done. There are still a couple of papers to get published but I stopped caring quite some time ago - now I will just go with whatever my supervisor wants.

As for other things, I intend to get back into telling the world (as in, the couple of people that are listening) about all the crazy things that go on in my life through the medium of this blog. For instance, yesterday morning I was out with the dog; we bike to the dog-park and then walk, then bike home. It was really stormy and when I came back over the hill from the dog-park my bike was gone! I though to myself who would steal my crappy bike? And in fact I was more concerned about the dog leash that was with it, it probably cost more than the bike did. Then I looked over the road and it was way over there in a gorse bush. I think the wind must have blown it away but at the same time that seems sort of unlikely. Who would know. Anyway, then we were biking home, taking it slow, and some guy in a car nearly hit us because he was not watching where he was going at all! Luckily no harm was done and we went on our way. But what a morning, right? And speaking of stormy weather, I have been trying to start a vege garden and some of my seeds were starting to grow, but then the wind the other week blew all my pots down and everything was spilt - some I managed to salvage but I'm not entirely sure what is what now. So you see, despite being busy life has gone on as normal and I still have funny incidents to make a story out of - hopefully from now on I will have the energy to write again. And start taking photos so you can see where I live now! Anyway, time to go, have celebrating to do (not much though because most of my new friends are busy).

13 August 2013

Sorry for long absence...

How long has it been since I have written? Who knows - I know I wrote a quick update after Aus, but that seems like so long ago right now! I have been very busy trying not to procrastinate so that my thesis will be finished on time. I have just written an awesome paragraph and I will stop there for the morning because I need some thinking time. Luckily, I had actually written a lot more than I realised so all I really need to worry about is writing a good general discussion, and a better general introduction. Other chapters just need little things. I should be focussing all my energy on the thesis for just these last few weeks, but I still can't seem to find that sense of urgency. On Friday we are having a party at work to celebrate the end of the Warhol exhibit and this evening I am going to make a little 60s mini-dress for it, and I also plan to bake muffins and do housework. Yesterday I went op-shopping and did gardening. Tomorrow I plan on going shopping and painting some shoes silver for this party. So you see plenty of my energy is still going into other things and I really just can't seem to change that. For every good paragraph or two that I get written, I need to take at least an hour off to do something more fun. So progress is slow, but just imagine, if I actually only did my thesis, how quickly it would have got done - surely I wouldn't have known what to do with myself if it were already finished? Shame I don't still get paid for it though, it's rough having to actually work to make money.

Anyway, it's a beautiful day here in Welly and I do not get to enjoy most of it because I have to go to work. Much nicer to walk the dog today though, compared to getting soaked to the bone in the weekend. It was so windy last night that it sounded like trees would be blown down, but nothing major has happened so I guess that was just normal Wellington wind. There have been no more earthquakes so life has been pretty tame, but just in case I plan on blu-tak-ing down all my breakable things, so that if another earthquake hits I won't have to buy lots of new stuff. Perhaps that will be next week's procrastination? That and putting pictures and stuff on the walls, so that it looks like a home in time for my housewarming party - I can have one now because I finally got more furniture. Trademe is great sometimes, I got two awesome couches for just $16, but I also got a dryer for much more than that and it stopped working almost right away. It's OK though because the neighbour that is moving is going to give me her dryer. All I need now is a dining table really, then I can stop spending money. Or rather, I can stop spending money on house things and start spending money on shoes. Because there are so many more shoe shops here with so many pretty shoes to buy. Or maybe I will spend it on fabric and distract myself with making summer clothes for when the it finally gets warm. Or save it for a holiday? Well, I don't really have any time right now so it's time to go, and the only picture I have to leave you with is of a dull and dreary day in which I had to drive out to Lower Hutt to return the furniture moving truck that I hired (I drove a big truck, it was an interesting experience). So here is Wellington in the rain, as seen from the Esplanade in Lower Hutt (with Cher of course):

30 July 2013

Visiting Sydney

I am back in NZ now, after what seemed like a very short 4 days in Sydney. I am stuck in the airport in Christchurch because the morning flights to Welly were cancelled due to fog. Luckily there is free wifi in the airport, unlike at Sydney airport where they are stuck in the past. So I will use my waiting time in the airport (I have another hour to wait still and no book to read) to write a blog post, so that when I get back to Welly I don't use this to procrastinate from writing my thesis.

Sydney was very warm, it didn't feel like winter at all. That plus the fact that the gum trees don't lose their leaves made it really feel like stepping into summer - and I felt way overdressed in my winter clothes. The 4 days flew by because we did a lot, but even then there was a lot that we didn't do. We went to the zoo, which was good, but it closed at 4.30 pm, which we weren't expecting, so we didn't get to see it all. We only missed out on the Australian exhibits though and I've seen that stuff before so it was all good. I was really tired after having to get up so insanely early for my flight, so a good sleep and a quiet Saturday were welcomed by me. Over the course of the weekend we tried out some restaurants, wandered through a market, walked over the harbour bridge and went on a cruise of the harbour in a tall-ship (I'm not sure why they call them that, but it's one of those old ships with big sails, like a pirate ship). We were going to go up the big tower in the middle of Sydney and have lunch in the revolving restaurant but we ran out of time because we were too busy ice-skating! After which we found a Baskin-Robbins and I introduced my Aussie friends to my favourite ice-cream flavour, chocolate peanut butter.

Now my little holiday in the sun is over and I am back. It's time to get my thesis finished, so the next two months might be stressful and busy. Perhaps it will be some time before I write again so I will leave you with lots of pictures to enjoy for now instead.

25 July 2013

High Stress Levels

Me and stress don't go together very well. For the most part I manage to be pretty calm and chilled out, but when that fails I am such a mess. Moving to Wellington and starting work immediately has had me teetering on the edge for weeks, and this morning's somewhat dramatic events are a good example of how me and stress don't go well together.

To begin with, I've been tired all week because Cher has been waking me up at least a half hour before my alarm (which is set really bloody early to begin with so that I have time to walk her). I sorted out flatmates, but the one that has moved in already has so far demonstrated a habit of getting up at 5 am to have breakfast? Perhaps it will not be an every morning thing though - or perhaps she will get quieter or I will get used to it and not wake up. I am still in the process of organising my new life - I have registered the dog up here yet and I haven't changed over my car registration, but I have changed my details for other important things, and I also had time to get my brakes fixed, which was very necessary. I bought a shiny new tv but still don't have enough furniture, or internet, or a proper aerial on the roof for getting freeview. And I had long work days, which really tire me out. And I found out that I have a deadline for my thesis and it is September 30, which really means mid-September because I need time to print it and get forms signed and arrange for it to be handed in without my being there in person. So, lot's to be worried and stressed about right? Add to that the fact that I hadn't sorted out anywhere to stay in Christchurch (I am here two nights, on my way to and from Aus). Finally, on top of it all, I have had a cold. So yesterday at work I wasn't in a very good mood.

After work, and taking the dog for a run, I got accommodation sorted at the YHA, who were so helpful and made it so easy. I immediately felt better and less stressed, which carried through to the morning, even thought I didn't get enough sleep. However, then things got bad again. First I had to find time to go the bank, because I opened up another bank account so that I could get a credit card and stuff (PSIS just doesn't cut it when it comes to buying stuff online). The lady at the bank is very nice but she is also very slow. So after that I was running a little late, but what really made my morning bad was that I managed to drive the wrong way as I tried to get to the kennels where Cher was booked in. Which I might add was another reason for my general stress, as I worry about leaving her in a strange place. So instead of going the right way I headed out to the Hutt, and ended up in Petone. Between that and another couple of wrong turns I surely wasted a half hour that I really needed. So I got her to the kennel and I liked the place well enough, and getting back to the city went smoothly. But then I had to park the car up by my brother's place, where the parking is not free but apparently nobody ever checks it. There were none close to his house so I had to drive way up this tiny windy road, then when I found a park I had to try to turn around to go back to it. So on this tiny, windy road my three point turn ended in my backing into another car. Luckily, a parked car and nobody was around to see. But that's really bad, right? What's worse - I was so rushed for time I couldn't stop to see how much damage I had done or to leave a note. I just left it. How bad is that.

Next I had to parallel park in a tiny space on a hill. I'm not good at parallel parking. It didn't go well. Probably the worst parked car ever. But I had to leave it because I was going to miss my plane. At this point I should have stopped and thought 'I should call a taxi to get me there faster and with less hassle'. Of course, I didn't think of that because I already had my plan of getting on the airport bus and in my stressed out state I couldn't think enough to deviate from the plan. So I walked as fast as I could to the bus-stop, and I didn't manage to take the fastest walking route because I'm still getting used to the city, and the weather was much warmer than I anticipated so I was very warm and uncomfortable. I made it to the bus stop in a state of panic, to find that the next bus was 10 minutes away. So I waited, still in a state of panic, convinced I would miss my flight and hoping that they would be kind enough to just put me on the next flight at no cost. The bus finally arrived and I double checked my electronic ticket, which said that I had to be there 20 minutes before departure, not the half hour I thought. So I had an extra 10 minutes to get there. The bus arrived just on time and I rushed in and ran to the check in place, because AirNZ doesn't do online check in (if it did, I would have not been worried at all). I put my booking number into the self-service thing, and it said that I could not check in! Then it printed out a ticket that told me to go get some assistance. Luckily, an AirNZ person saw me looking so flustered and managed to quickly get me onto the flight, so I did make it in the end. But it was not fun, I have never cut it so close before (except when I nearly missed my Ireland-NZ flight, but that was the connecting flight's fault and not my own).

So that was my morning, and the culmination of my being too stressed out is extra-bad driving. So in the future, I must try harder not to get into such a situation. I have already reduced my work hours, so that I have time for my thesis without getting into that state. Next I simply have to not book travel and then move city right before I go, neglecting to finish organising my travel. Perhaps not getting lost while driving in Wellington would help too?

Now I'm in Christchurch and soon I'll be off to Aus for 4 days. Can't wait. Have no money though. When I get back I will have internet on in the house, so I will be able to start including photos again. I will have flatmates and I will finish getting furniture. I will finish my stupid thesis. But right now I'm going to go and relax and have a holiday.

19 July 2013

Finally, a weekend

Two and a half days off work after 11 days straight. I was so exhausted that I thought I was coming down with something, because by the end of yesterday my glands had swollen and my head was achey and fuzzy. Fine today though so I guess I just needed a break. Not that it's much of a break, because it's time to get focused on the PhD again. I probably only have a month or two left to get it handed in - I am waiting to hear about when the last lot of fees paid will run out. My day off today was great, but not entirely without stress. I went into the city to sort out some bank stuff and shopping stuff, but driving into the city is a nerve-wracking experience for me, in which I narrowly miss other cars (the streets here a really narrow and windy and confusing) and cause even further damage to my brakes (which started making a bad noise today so I've booked my poor car into a garage to get them fixed). I gave up on town sooner than I intended because it was just too stressful, but after that I went to the opshop by the dump where I found a big pot for soup and a good baking tray, and a pile of other stuff, and they are so nice and helpful there, that it made it all better. I went home and met a potential flatmate, who is my backup but I don't really want because he is far too old - I specified an age bracket in my trademe ad for a reason, that reason being that I really would be more comfortable with people closer to my own age. I don't know how old he was, but seemed to be to be 35+, which is a bit much. So tomorrow somebody else is coming and I have a couple more that are supposed to get back to me - by the end of the weekend I hope to have at least one, even better two, because then both the rooms will be filled and I won't have to worry about money. So after meeting the potential flatmate I called the landlord because my shower sucks, and for various other house problems. Clearly it worked because a few hours later I got a call from a plumber, who is coming tomorrow. Yay. Then I went to visit my neighbour, who I met the other day and is moving in a couple of weeks, and in the process getting rid of a bunch of stuff by giving it to me (because I still need lots of stuff). I bought a washing machine off of trademe you see, and after asking around all week could not manage to find anyone to lend me a vehicle big enough to pick it up with. So my neighbour luckily had the card of a guy with a small business that is pretty much doing odd jobs for people and moving stuff in his truck. Which is perfect, so tomorrow morning he will get my washing machine and bring it here as he does his rounds of moving stuff for people.

So other than that tangent-filled blather, how is everything else going? Well, my job is exhausting but mostly good. For now I am a host, which means I hang around the museum helping people. In some parts (the sciencey parts) I look for people that are looking a bit unsure and I proceed to give details about random animal/natural history stuff. I'm learning about all the art that we have because the art galleries are quite quiet, so I walk around reading, so that I will be prepared if somebody asks me a question. Soon I will begin to be posted in our children's areas aswell, which are where there is a lot more interaction with people. At some point I will be trained to be a tour guide but perhaps not for a couple of months. That's OK though, because for the next two months I have to be thinking about my thesis and not taking on more work. The people I work with are nice but there are about 100 hosts in the team, so in such a large group there are politics and cliques and a fair amount of gossip. I have already noticed that working with some of the hosts is fun and provides opportunity for conversation, while others I would rather not be posted alongside. When I started I wasn't really sure what the job would be like but I've pretty much figured out what I will be able to make of it now. I look forward to becoming a tour guide and to working in the children's areas sometimes, but I think that when the PhD is finally behind me I will focus on introducing myself to the publishing people and seeing where some persistence there will get me. More immediately I will be getting in touch with some of the scientists because I'm hoping that some of them might have some books and journals that I can borrow as I write the last bits of my thesis. And you never know where meeting the science researchers and curators might lead me aswell.

Other than work, and looking for flatmates, and trying to finish furnishing my flat, I have slowly been finding that I have more spare time. The dog is getting used to our new routine. We get up crazy early and go for a walk, then I give her breakfast in a treat-dispensing ball so that she is entertained for awhile. I make my bed up really tight so that she can't get into the sheets (she still pushes the covers off though) and I hide toys and treats for her so that she has something to do while I'm gone. When I get home she is desperate for attention and a walk, but I managed to buy a bike (not a very good bike) so we go careening down the hills, in the dark, without a helmet (I'm working on it but it's hard to shop when you work all day). Then we walk back up the hills because I can't bike up them. Then I flop onto the couch, exhausted, while she rips her toys to pieces and makes a big mess. I have learnt to put away my things because with my being gone all day she has started to chew stuff. She has now destroyed a book, a boot, my hot water bottle and a packet of toilet paper. It could be worse though. I just hope she doesn't figure out how to open the closet. Walking and biking has let us get to know the streets around here, and there is a small village down the road and a bigger suburb in the other direction, with lots of shops. Which is great, I don't have to go into the city. I looked into getting a haircut in one of the nearby places today and being in the suburbs does not make things any cheaper. I guess it will just have to grow long. In fact, a lot of things here are more expensive than down south, and every time I nip into the grocery store I seem to spend way more than I thought I would. Partly because I am still stocking up on the basics, but also I think because everything is just a little dearer.

I have still not got the internet turned on in the flat. I signed up for broadband but it takes 5-10 working days for it to get sorted - how sucky is that? However, I don't have a router for it yet because I bought one of trademe and the person never contacted me back about shipping, so even if the broadband provider was faster I still wouldn't have internet. Hopefully I'll be sorted by next week and then I'll have enough internet to be able to start adding photos to posts. For now, though, I'm using my phone internet and it doesn't go that far so it's time to be going now. Off to bed, another day off tomorrow to continue getting my life sorted. Then more long days of work (poor dog left all alone) and then I'm off to Aus for a few days. Haven't sorted out what to do with the dog yet but hopefully something will work out!

04 July 2013

A New Home

Here I am, in Wellington, in a flat that is, so far, all mine. I live in Kingston, which is about a 5-10 minute drive from the city center, but at least 25 minutes on the bus. The house is nice enough but there is no real yard. I have almost nothing yet - I have a bed, which I figured was most important. It has nice new bedding and pillows. I have an old TV and a random dining chair and an oven that doesn't close properly. The landlords are bringing a fridge and better oven on the weekend - I'm hoping they bring a washing machine too or I will have to find a laundromat until I get sorted. The problem is that I don't have a van or ute to borrow any more, so I can't make the most of all the good stuff on Trademe. I have, however, been trawling a website called freecycle, where people list the things that they want to get rid of and you go pick them up. As well as that I will go op-shopping on the weekend and sort out some furniture quick-smart. Then the place will seem like a home. However, I do need to find flatmates or I will be incredibly poor. I have had 3 responses to my ad so far. One was a young French student who would only be here 2 months so I advised they look for somewhere that already has furniture. The second was an Indian girl, bit older than me, who worked for the weather service but I haven't heard from her since so she must have liked another listing better. Just now I have been contacted by a very promising candidate - an undergrad ecology student who really wants to live in a house with a dog. He's just my brother's age but living out here will surely have to be better behaved than my brother. And if not, oh well, at least I'll be able to afford the bills and rent.

So the people that were in this flat before me just left without any warning and apparently left the place in a huge mess (which is probably why my oven is a bit broken). I don't know what sort of dodgy things they were up to but last night there was a knock on the door at about 10 pm - at first I thought it was somewhere else because who would knock on my door at the time? Plus the lazy dog didn't bark. So then the knock came again and I saw that there were people at the door so I asked who it was ... it was the police! I kept the chain on the door until I was sure that it wasn't some random lying about their identity, but it actually was the police. They were looking for someone whose name I didn't catch, and I don't know why, but now that they know that person is long gone they will surely not come back. The locks are being changed this weekend, so hopefully I won't need to worry about dodgy people coming back.

As for work, it's been incredibly exhausting because the training period is full time. After next week I will be down to part time and hopefully I will get the perfect amount of hours to keep me going yet give me enough spare time for my studies and cooking and looking after the dog. The museum is awesome and everybody should go to it as much as possible. Spending all day on my feet is killing me so I really need to get some good shoes. I can't wait for the weekend and having a chance to sleep in and relax. Though Saturday I will be busy trying to fill my new place with things. I need to get a dresser so that I can get all my clothes of the floor. And I need a couch so that the dog stops sleeping on my bed during the day (hopefully). And I need a bike so that poor old Cher can go for proper runs again. These hills will make it difficult, but walking up and down them is just as bad and my legs are full of aches and pains. I just hope that in the long run it keeps me fit and toned! Did I mention that I'm right by this huge reserve, or string of reserves, that I'm pretty sure runs all the way to the bays on the southern coast. Me and Cher will go for a hike that way in the weekend and find out. Lots of pictures coming, but for now I'll leave you with the view from my morning walk:

01 July 2013

In Wellington

Well here I am. It was a very long drive - longer the first day but the whole thing has left me exhausted. I have survived a bit of driving in Wellington, up crazy hills and along narrow, windy roads. I looked at two places to live yesterday and neither were that good. Hopefully looking at another tonight and it is run directly by the landlord so if all is good I will try to sign a lease and move in immediately. Until then Cher is in a kennel and doggy day-care. I felt so awful leaving her there yesterday, in a strange place, after a stressful couple of days and not enough exercise. I hope she's OK. She will have to stay there till tomorrow at least. However, if I do get this place tonight I already have a bed lined up and it has a fridge, so the place will be in a liveable condition right away. I will have to sort out a washing machine pretty quickly, and stuff for the kitchen so that I can live like a civilised person. Now it is very early on Monday morning and I must have had too much on my mind because I couldn't sleep properly. I was awake since 5.30, so I got up early and now have nothing to do until it's time to go to work. Hopefully all goes well today. Here is Cher falling asleep in the car:

27 June 2013

Moving to Wellington!!!

So first I was intending to write a post about a week or so ago, because I went to Wellington for 5 days and that was quite fun. My bag got lost on the way up because one of my flights was cancelled and I was put on a difference flight. It was OK though because they couriered it to me later, which meant I didn't have to bother dragging my bag up a big hill. The weather was extreme, it sounded like the house would blow down on us and there were fallen trees everywhere. I stayed with my brother and he acted the gentleman and let me have his bed (even bought clean sheets!). It was freezing cold for most of my stay and because I'm poor now (and had no space in my little carry-on case) the only shopping I did while there was for a hat, because I was so cold. I found a nice one too. It's sort of purple - pretty much the same colour as my new car (but we'll get to that soon). So I checked out Te Papa so that I would have plenty to say at my job interview, and after about 4 hours I was still only half way through and completely exhausted. The next day was my job interview and I was there bright and early, only it turns out that Te Papa doesn't actually open until 10 am, so I had to hang around in the cafe until I could actually go in and wait. Then my interviewer finally arrives and it is not who I was expecting, because the two people that were supposed to interview me were away or sick. So I was interviewed by these two guys and they were both nice, and I was a bit nervous but not too bad. There were a few times where I thought I had talked too much and lost track of the question but later on one of them told me that I had interviewed really well so I guess it was OK. Then I was allowed to ask some questions and then it was all over. The next couple of days were meant to be all about finding somewhere to live but in Welly places go real fast, so nobody was much interested in talking to someone that wasn't moving up for another week. I did decide not to go flatting with people though, but instead to get my own place and hopefully find a flatmate quickly. Only finding a place that will allow dogs is incredibly difficult, and for most places you have to hand in an application and they do credit checks and reference checks - how extreme is that!

Anyway, after I got back from Welly I was going to write all about it, but I hadn't heard about the job yet and I was so anxious. My interview was on the Thursday and I hoped to hear back on the Friday evening, but they are strict about checking references so they said I would get a call on Monday. All of Monday I kept my phone with me and waited and got more and more worried. By the end of Monday I decided to call the next morning, and I got through to someone about lunchtime. She was very sorry that I had been left waiting and said they were having a problem with their servers so email references hadn't come through yet, but she would let me know as soon as possible. I spent the rest of the day and the next morning trying to get hold of someone in Invercargill to be an extra reference for me, for just in case. Luckily I finally got hold of someone (who I made costumes for), because when I called back I was told that the human resources department might not accept a written reference alone. So my having found someone for them to speak to on the phone probably cinched the deal. Plus my ringing them so much to find out showed them that I really wanted the job. So I start Monday! There is two weeks training, for which we get paid, then I guess the school holidays are starting and there will be lots of work to go around. After that I don't know but I reckon if I do a good job and want plenty of work I will get enough to get by. Which is all I need, as I also need time to finish writing my thesis and work on my publishing diploma assignments.

So this week, even though for most the week I didn't know for sure what was happening, I managed to buy myself my very first car. It is pale purple and it is manual so I had to get used to gears again. It smells a bit funny but I put air fresheners in it and after I drive it to Wellington I'm sure it will just smell like me and the dog instead of whatever else it smelt like. I'm going to give it a name, because apparently a first car should have a name. I don't know what though. I might by sticker things for it too, like you see sometimes, to go over the outside of the car - something girly like flowers or stars or butterflies. Then it will be really mine. I wonder if I can get sparkly ones? For now it has red and white building tape on it, because there were a couple of loose bits that Dad glued down and riveted on, and the tape has to hold it until the glue dries properly. It needed new wiper blades too and they are bright blue. Plus I learnt how to check oil and water and other important things. So now it is ready to go, and packed to the brim, and we are about to go on a 3 day road trip to start our new life in Wellington. I hope the weather is nice for the drive and that there are lots of nice scenic views to take photos of.

The last big step is to find somewhere to live. That's going to be hard. I have a couple of places lined up to look at and am waiting to hear from some other people. I think that, while the dog thing is a problem, I can balance it out with having good references, having a certificate for dog obedience, and being a doctor (I know I'm not quite one yet, but near enough right?). Plus I am boring and don't intend to have crazy parties. Then I intend to find a flatmate that loves dogs and can fit in with me and my way of living. I'm probably going to be a bit poor for awhile, but I've been a student for long enough to know how to deal with that. I will have to find furniture, and possible even a fridge or washing machine, but once all of that is sorted it should all be good. Poor Cher will have to learn how to entertain herself while I am at work, but hopefully she'll cope and not get depressed. She has been too spoilt.

I think that's quite enough writing for now so I'll leave it at that till I'm settled in and can update people about my new life.

10 June 2013

Interviews and possums

The last week was a bit of a bust when it came to work. I just couldn't focus, writing a thesis can be terribly depressing when you have a supervisor that seems to doubt everything you say. So instead of work I took the dog for walks and stopped being lazy about her obedience training, made a dress, knitted a hat, watched movies, read a book and baked giant cookies. Plus I got an interview for a job at Te Papa, as a tour guide. So I'm going to Welly for a few days, because after my PhD troubles I told myself I would never take a job without checking out the place and the people first. This job would perhaps not be much of a career move, in that it is only casual, part-time work that doesn't require all my tertiary qualifications; however this job would get me to Wellington and into Te Papa, where I can start getting to know people, making contacts, and trying to convince somebody to give me the type of job that I want. There is a press at Te Papa where they publish non-fiction books - if I am there, on site, perhaps I will be more likely to work my way into an editorial job there? Plus I've been back from Ireland for 6 months now and I think I've had about enough of Invercargill, it might be time for a change again.

The biggest challenge about moving to a new city now would be getting to know a new place, and finding dog-friendly places for Cher. We will need a new run to go on - I will probably miss the Waihopai walkway, where there is so much space and for the most part I can let Cher run without a leash. On the upside, perhaps I will find a good dog park. And most cities have some kind of large park or botanic garden, it will just be a case of finding our way around. Queen's Park is so good for dog-walking though, and I have never been told off for having Cher off of her leash (although I did get a talking too at Sandy point the other day, which is what encouraged me to start training her again). Over the last three days in our daily walks through Queen's Park Cher met a new animal - a possum!

At first I thought it was just a bit odd, to find a possum on the ground during the day time. There was Cher, barking like it was some sort of threat, and this possum just slowly uncurled and looked at us, then eventually climbed up the tree some way. We went on our way and I thought no more on it, but the next day Cher found the possum again, in the same place! This time the possum didn't even bother to try climb the tree, so as I dragged Cher away I wondered if maybe it was old or sick or hurt. Turns out it must have been. Today on our walk Cher ran ahead to the tree, to look for the possum, but this time it wasn't there. We kept walking and after awhile Cher wandered off and disappeared - when I noticed I started to call her, and going back to obedience training is paying off, so she came running, only she had something in her mouth. She is always picking up sticks but this seemed to be something sort of floppy. She caught up to me and yes, she had a dead possum in her mouth. She was very pleased with herself and not too impressed about having to drop it, but luckily Cher has a one track mind so as soon as you point her toward the path she's happy enough to continue with our walk, and forgets whatever I have made her drop.

02 June 2013

The trouble with dogs

A couple of days ago I was taking the dog for a long run because the weather had finally cleared. We had a good run and were nearly at the hospital to visit my sister, when I realised that I didn't have the dog's leash anymore. You think I would have learnt by now to keep a better hold on it, but I can't seem to keep from disappearing into daydreams while I bike along. Unfortunately, Cher is far from being a sniffer dog and is not help in finding things at all. So we turned around and started slowly making our way back while I looked out for the leash. Eventually I gave up and turned back toward the hospital, but my slow backtrack had given Cher time to get into mischief. I don't know where she went and what she did but she came back all covered in mud. Now, it's not unusual for her to run through the mud and splatter her legs and stomach, but this time she managed to get mud all over her back. We continued on our way and I found a half of a broken leash further down the track - that combined with the drawstring of my track-pants provided a makeshift leash, as I couldn't very well bring a dog into the hospital with no leash. Of course, with her being all muddy I probably should have left her outside, but I couldn't trust a drawstring to hold her so I had no choice. However, as we left the estuary and continued to the hospital, I noticed that we hadn't left the estuary smell behind. So I was not only bringing a dirty dog into the hospital; I was bringing a dirty, stinky dog into the hospital. Luckily, I didn't come across any nurses on my way in. Cher was tired and seemed to feel quite sorry for herself so she settled down quickly enough:

Now you might think that the trouble with dogs is the stinky mud they like to get into. But with Cher, that's just the beginning. This was only the second time that she has gotten so smelly, but there was just no avoiding the need to give her a proper wash. Bathtubs have gone out of fashion, which is not really ideal when you have a dog that needs a bath. So I began by tying her leash to the shower handrail, but she's not a stupid dog so she knew what was happening - as soon as I turned on the water she managed to slip out of her collar and go running through the house, spreading water and stink everywhere. To get her back into the bathroom I had to pick her up, then I had to keep a tight grip on the scruff of her neck to get her to stay still. I wet her down, lathered her and tried to scrub away all the dirt, all the while holding her in something like a headlock. As we finished with the lathering and starting rinsing, she went from struggling to struggling and whining. Only it wasn't normal, quiet whining. By the end of it I wouldn't have been surprised if somebody had called the police because it sounded like someone was being murdered. So I gave up and began to towel her down, and she continued to whine and cry. By the time it was all over, the bathroom was flooded, the living room carpet was all wet, she'd gone through about three towels, I was soaked and Cher was hiding under the washing rack. What a pathetic dog I have, she loves to swim but is terrified of having a shower. After all that drama we were both exhausted:

22 May 2013

No Job Interview :(

So I didn't get an interview for the most recent job I applied for. It's probably not such a bad thing - I was overqualified and I don't actually want to be a microscope technician for any significant amount of time, but it is the type of job where they would prefer to hire somebody who will stick around for most of their career. But it still leaves me in a rather unsecured financial position. Technically I have enough savings to keep me going for a good few months after my student wage ends (which will be in about a month or so!). However, if I have no work and live off of my savings I won't have anything to fall back on in case of emergency, and I will have no money left to take a holiday back to Europe. So it's on to the next thing, because my thesis is not really full time work right now anyway. I just handed in the next draft of the next research paper to my supervisor and in my opinion, it is close to being ready to submit. The introduction and discussion needs work, but everything else is looking pretty good I think. There are two more chapters to finish of course, but I can't do anything about that until my supervisor gets back to me with comments. So for today I am taking a break from the thesis, I have updated my CV and I am about to make some phone calls to various publishing houses to offer my name as a freelance editor. It's what I want to do, so I might as well just try to get started, right?

Making those sort of phone calls is difficult though, so first I am procrastinating by writing. I had a terrible week last week - I came down with a tummy bug and a bad cold and I could not make the most of the clear weather we've been having. My poor dog was neglected because I was too ill to take her for proper runs, and I had no appetite so I couldn't even make myself feel better with comfort food. Luckily I came right around Thursday because I had to get cracking on my entry for the Oyster Festival fashion thing. Talk about last minute - it's lucky I had the idea and did the basic construction before I got sick or I would have been screwed. The judging was on Sunday so I spent to days making the biggest mess imaginable with my oyster sacks, paint, sand and glitter. After a long day on Sunday it is all over, except for the show itself, and I'm glad because I large part of me couldn't really be bothered with it all anyway. There were only three adult entries and the other two were adult-child pairs so I'm not sure if my ridiculously huge, painted monstrosity of a dress can compete with all that cuteness. Here is my entry, I have no photos of it being worn yet but it looked pretty good. I really, really hope I win something - have to pay for my sewing machine after all, and it would make me feel better after not getting a job interview.

So that's pretty much my life for the past two weeks. I don't appreciate all the cold rain today because, no matter the weather, I still have to take the dog for a run. Despite having no financial security, today I feel like shopping would cheer me up - perhaps I will go buy myself something nice. I'm debating over whether to spend a chunk of my savings on buying a car - then when my sister is out of hospital and wants me out of her house, I could just take to the road for awhile. After all, my work is pretty mobile and flexible. But then if I find now work how will I keep it running? So with that thought in mind, I guess I should pick up the phone and start trying to market myself as a freelance editor.

07 May 2013

Not much to say...

So what have I been doing for the last week or so? Well, first of all, I decided at the last minute to enter the fashion competition of the Bluff Oyster Festival again, after all these years, so that required a trip out to Bluff for last minute sign up. Now, why might it take nearly an hour to drive to Bluff? Well, when you are stuck behind this for one thing:

I'm not quite sure what it was, but it took up both lanes and moved very slowly. After that trip I decided to take a drive out to Colac Bay; I was struggling to find motivation for my thesis work and I thought a change of scenery might help. It didn't, I spent two days reading books instead (finally read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and it was really good, so I had to read the whole trilogy). The scenery was nice though, there was a really high tide, lots of wind and clear skies at night to show off all the stars.

Now another week is here and I am finally getting focused on my work again. It is going slow, but that's how these things work. As well as the thesis I have two weeks left to make my entry for the Oyster Festival - which has shown me that it's high time I bought myself a sewing machine. I borrowed a machine that my Dad had hidden away in a closet and it's the most obsolete dinosaur of a sewing machine that I've ever come across. I don't know where he got it but it surely belongs in a museum or the tip, not really sure which but it really is impossible to use and I refuse to waste my time and energy trying to make it work. Instead I'll use it as an excuse to go out and buy one of my own - I mean, I would be needing one anyway so why wait? However, now it's late afternoon and even when I take the thesis work slowly it is still draining (especially when it's chemistry that I have to get my head around) so now it's time to rustle up a snack and take a break.

25 April 2013

ANZAC day 2013

The last couple of weeks I have been properly hard at work on my thesis, which makes for a rather dull and tiring couple of weeks with very little interesting stories to tell. It started last Monday, which feels like ages ago and not just last week, when I had to drive up to Dunedin to use some microscope software at extremely short notice - as in, I got an email at 10 am saying that the microscope would be free that afternoon, but after that not for at least two weeks. So I had to collect all my thesis stuff and jump in the car, on a very rainy day that wasn't really suitable for driving in. I also had to dump my poor doggy at doggy-daycare, even though she had a cut on her foot that I didn't want to get worse. So I drove up to Dunedin, picked up a hitchhiker on the way to keep me alert, found my way to the electron microscope unit and after awhile I managed to remember how to use the software and did what I had to do - which after a three hour drive ended up taking no more than an hour. I'm not used to driving long distances so between that and being in a dark room on a computer for an hour I was already pretty tired, so I couldn't just drive back. Luckily I managed to get in touch with a friend so I had someone to eat lunch with, we caught up and chatted about all sorts of things, and then I had to drive back to Invers. Did I mention that as soon as I had driven out of Invercargill the driving rain disappeared? So I drove back into darkness, because it was late afternoon, and rain, and when it was all over I was very tired. The dog, on the other hand, was far from tired and would not stop jumping all over me - an entire day away is a bit much for her, she still has some separation issues.

After that very exhausting Monday I finally had access to all of the data I had been missing, which meant that I could continue re-writing one of my thesis chapter drafts. However, the next day I finally got an email from my supervisor with edits and comments on what I had sent her so far - in some ways good because I could include all of that in my new draft, but in other ways not good, because she expected a response and my draft wasn't ready yet. Which is why I worked really long, exhausting hours for a few days (because, though it may not seem so to some people, spending the whole day staring at a computer is actually really hard). Then I sent the draft to her, and had to quickly write up the assignment that was due for the publishing diploma that I'm doing part-time - hopefully it was good, I almost never leave things to the last minute like that! Then I had to get straight back to finishing the images I was working on for my thesis - I spent the weekend figuring out how to do what I wanted to do using photoshop, which is a very annoying program sometimes, completely un-user-friendly, and which I think I need to buy when I get a job because my copy (that is, a pirated copy, how bad am I) seems to be having issues. And my shiny new computer is having issues too - or perhaps it's Windows8, which may be a great new thing for tablet users but is really irritating for real computer users. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that because of computer/photoshop/windows8 issues I had a huge scare a couple of days ago when the images that I had nearly finished vanished from my computer! As did the new draft of my thesis chapter. I keep all of my thesis backed up on the internet through GoogleDrive so things aren't supposed to be able to just disappear, yet they were nowhere to be found. Luckily, I did eventually find them - in the trash of my online GoogleDrive, which is very strange because to get there the files would have to have been deleted, but all that happened was that my computer crashed while the files had been open. Both strange and worrying - as soon as I got all my documents back I made a new back-up of everything, for just in case.

Now that I have finished the second draft of that chapter I need to do the same for my other chapters. I'm working on an easy one today, because it is a public holiday after all. In fact, maybe I should stop working and make some ANZAC cookies - yep, that's definitely a good idea on this cold, rainy day. As well as my thesis work and my publishing diploma work (which luckily I find quite easy, so it doesn't take up much time) I have found a job to apply for, so I need to write an awesome cover letter, fix up my CV, maybe phone the place up with some queries, and sort out references. The references will actually be the worst bit - I will have to ask my supervisor, and first of all knowing that I am looking for a job may make her be even more negative about my thesis work, and second of all, I'm not sure if she will give me a good reference, on account of our precarious relationship and her apparent antipathy of my attitude to this PhD research (as in, she clearly thinks that I am incompetent and haven't completed tasks to the best standard - which is a load of bullshit, what is really going on is that I no longer give a f***). So anyway, you can see why I would be wary of asking her to be a reference, even though I have no choice as she is my most recent employer. Perhaps the 11 hour time difference will mean that there are no phone conversations, just emails, and that it will all stay vague and friendly. The job is electron microscopy technician at Massey University in Palmerston and I think I would really like that sort of a job - for awhile at least, and then we'll see. Plus, there isn't a lot of choice really, even if I look in Australia there are not a huge amount of jobs for someone with my specific science skills. So fingers crossed for this one! Time to go make bikkies...

13 April 2013

Bright and early on Sunday morning

Every morning Cher begins to wake me up slowly at some ungodly hour (I refuse to wake up enough to look at the time but I'm sure it's insanely early). She starts by sitting by my bed staring at me, and I know that she's there without even opening my eyes. Then she paces; through the house, to her bed, back to my bed to stare at me some more, and she might let out the odd whine while she's at it. I continue to ignore her, but she has a very accurate internal clock. Come 7.30 she jumps on my bed, half the time landing right on my guts, and if I'm lucky she'll curl up and go to sleep for another half hour. Or she'll be restless and continue to pace, on my bed, up and down from the foot of the bed to my pillow, flopping herself down and rolling about whenever she thinks I might be about to wake up and pet her. So then I kick her off the bed but she continues to stare at me so I have to get up eventually. The hours I keep may seem a bit slack to you but you have to remember that first of all, I am a student and second of all, every day I have to wake up and face the depressing, anxiety-ridden reality that is my PhD thesis, with all of it's negative, non-expert, multi-disciplinary, disjointed, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink results. So I think I deserve to stay in bed till 8.

Anyway, regardless of my desire to stay in bed the dog makes me get up and feed her as close to 8 am as possible, and is so excited when I haul my ass out of bed that she jumps all over me and rolls at my feet and when I lean down to rub her exposed belly she waves her paws about regardless of how sharp her claws are. So after feeding her and then myself and all the other necessary morning things that have to be done it's time to run all of her energy out of her with a big bike ride. However, on Friday morning my back tire was completely flat. We made do and I took it to Dad later to get it fixed. We found the puncture and fixed it and I biked home and everything seemed fine. So the next morning, after being woken up by sad dog eyes, we were just about to head off on our bike ride when I saw that the tire was flat again! There must have been something wrong with it, right? Later that day I took it into the shop to get the tube replaced because it is an old bike after all. I give it to the bike guy and he looks down at the tire and the first thing he sees? A staple stuck in it. Now why didn't I see that? I didn't even look, great way to make myself look stupid. Could have avoided that second puncture altogether but hopefully I will be more on to it next time. And if not, I think I'll take it to the bike shop again because what took me about half an hour to do on my own the bike guy did in 5 minutes.

Now it's Sunday morning and high time I got out of bed properly. I have work to do because I've been too slack this last week. Right now the dog is entertained with her toy that holds treats, and the way that she wrinkles her forehead in concentration is really adorable, but eventually she'll get them all out and then she'll be bored and expect her morning run. At least it's not raining - the other day we got soaked within about 5 minutes and I think she dislikes going out in the pouring rain as much as I do. Then it's time to get my act together and really get to work this week (although when you don't get any edited drafts back from your supervisor there really is a limit to what can be done). It's halfway through April and when I left Ireland I really thought I'd be finished by March. I thought the bulk of it was done but without real feedback I don't even know if I am on the right track - still, I hope it will only be a matter of another month or so. And then I'll have no wage so maybe I should start buying lotto tickets...

01 April 2013

Sunny Easter Weekend

Easter and chocolate finally arrived to take me away from an awful week of PhD work (hopefully this week will go better?). Friday featured an impromptu drive out to Riverton to take my pick of plants and belongings from my Nan's old house, all in the midst of my Mum's latest drama - her cat went missing. Between the two of them those cats would have cost more than 10 grand to get them to NZ so they aren't allowed to run away or die. Yet it's hard to get too worked up over it when it's only been missing a day, there's not really a lot you can do to find a cat really because when they want to hide they're really good at it. So I left Mum to it and went for a drive, helped myself to pot-plants and a couple of little things, but not much really because to be honest I'd already had a good nosy on the sly and taken a couple of things that I wanted. So what do you do after the long enough drive to Riverton on a really hot day? You take a drive down to the rocks and take some pictures as proof of our amazing Easter weather (because it's Autumn now and it's really not normally quite this good by this time of year).

So after all of that and a drive out to Colac Bay for a bit of a feed we drove back to Invercargill to attempt to rescue the poor pot-plants that had been neglected for about 9 months or so - they're surprisingly OK. It was so bloody hot that it was just too hard to really do anything at all (so I ate an Easter egg and watched tele), and then the same thing happened on Saturday! Not that I'm complaining, I love the sun. I spent the day gardening which was really exhausting, while the poor dog mostly sheltered inside. She's been taking couch liberties and I've been letting her, because she's just so cute.

Anyway, to get to the end of all my stories, first of all Mum found her cat - locked in the neighbour's garage, right next door all along. He didn't learn his lesson though. Easter Sunday was supposed to be colder but it wasn't really, then it absolutely poured down all night and for a bit in the morning - great for the gardens and farmers but bloody cold. Took the dog for a run when it cleared up, she got a bit of a surprise when the river was so much deeper than normal, but then halfway along it started to come down again and we got soaked. Luckily it stopped before too long and the wind was strong enough to dry us off. It probably wasn't enough to end the drought though, the afternoon has been humid and hot and who knows what it will do tomorrow. Out in Colac Bay now, it's cold and windy out here and the surf is huge today. Hopefully I'll have a good week of work.

25 March 2013

Sunshine and procrastination

The last two weeks have been pretty mostly sunshine and I have been doing my best to make the most of it. Which means a lot of time outside, reading books, walking the dog on the beach and doing the garden. Did I mention I was learning to garden? The first big job was cutting back all of the trees that have been massively encroaching upon the lawn here at my sister's house - they have probably not been looked after for 5 years or more. I found some interesting things in amongst them too - a good spade (which I have now managed to lose again), a cricket ball for the dog to destroy, a little rose bush trying to survive under a huge flax bush and a tidy little brick border around the entire garden. The dog tried to help, by dragging away the branches that I  chop down and chewing them into lots of little pieces. But now that that's all done it's time to plant stuff which is more interesting, but not great for my budget because there are so many nice bulbs and flowers to buy. The garden here is going to be amazing next spring, though if all goes well I won't be here to see it, because I will have found a job and move somewhere to start a proper life. For now though I will plant stuff, because gardening is a great excuse to be outside in the sun.

While I'm here in Invercargill I make sure that the dog stays tired and quiet by taking her on long bike rides. There is a track that goes about halfway around the outside of the city, starting near here at my sister's house and ending at the estuary. The dog loves it, she swims about half of it altogether in her effort to chase the birds. She's even started chasing the swans, which surprised me because swans are usually pretty aggressive; I thought they would have chased her away.

With the surprisingly warm Autumn weather the scenery along the cycle track is so nice that I had to stop and take photos, and you know it's surprisingly awkward to bike with a heavy camera around your neck. I probably looked a bit silly too. At least I didn't fall off and break it. And for all that trouble I got a nice picture of the Waihopai river mouth and the big blue sky.

On these walks I also generally end up with a very muddy dog. But at least she's tired and leaves me alone for a few hours. Now all I have to do is start being more productive in those hours, because the real things, as in work, are on a bit of a go-slow. But at least I've got the dog to keep me cheerful so work (or lack thereof) isn't getting me down.

Now it's pretty much Easter so that's cause for a break, right? Making hot cross buns is definitely on my to-do list, and apparently helping prepare food for a hangi. Hopefully there'll be chocolate, and I should probably try to get in touch with all of my overseas mates (who are currently snowed in, but I'm preferring our sunshine). Of course, I should also stop slacking off and get back to work, otherwise it will never finish. So I have a small list of PhD related tasks for this week and then next week it will be back to Colac Bay to get serious about writing again, even though I still haven't had any corrected drafts back from my supervisor. Though I'm loving the hot weather, I'm sort of hoping it will peter out after Easter so that I'm not so distracted by pretty views like this one:

08 March 2013

Dog Doings

I've not got much to say this week because it seems that nothing has happened. I have stayed in town and tried to work - half successful I think, but I keep procrastinating. Or at least it feels like I am, because I've been trying to focus on a chapter that is really not in my field, and it's hard. Plus at the same time I've been trying to keep up with my supervisor's comments on what I've already sent her, half of which need to be followed up on really well and the other half that need to be refuted with a lot of evidence so that she realises that I do actually know what I'm talking about, I've researched it and I'm right. So that's my task for tomorrow. Tonight my plan was to write a cover letter for a job I'd like to apply for but I haven't done that - again, because it seems overwhelmingly hard so it's best faced on a new day. Instead I will watch tv and relax with the dog, who right now is on a time-out because she chases the poor cat who hardly ever comes inside now and was hungry. I'll go to Colac Bay next week for the whole week and hopefully the cat will relax and have some time in the house.

Since I have nothing to say for myself I will tell dog stories instead. This week we graduated from obedience lessons and I have to say, while I'm sure the lady is great with dogs it was a lot of money considering that my dog required hardly any work - she's pretty much automatically obedient and very clear on who her mum is. She got to choose a toy as a prize for passing, so she chose a little cat and pulled out all the stuffing within about an hour. It'll still be good to play with for another week or so though.

So what obedience lessons really did was teach me a couple of tricks about dealing with certain behaviours and give me ideas of tricks to teach her. As well as sit, stay, lie down and roll over she can now high-five, spin in a circle and go through my legs when I tell her. Next we'll work on jumping through hoops, putting away her toys and shutting the door. Now she's hanging around as if she wants something to do but Autumn has well and truly set it, with cold weather and shorter days. So it's dark outside and I don't want to go out there. She'll just have to entertain herself with toys until bed time. I've gotten a little lax about letting her on the couch and bed - when I'm sitting around studying and she's tired she settles down faster if I let her up beside me. So she snoozes on the end of the bed sometimes (here she's sleeping with her duck, who is now pretty much dead, but it's OK because she has a new pink gorilla to eat).

Unfortunately she also hops up in the morning when she wakes up and gets bored because I'm still asleep. I let her because I want to keep sleeping and it's just easier. I've also invited her up onto the couch a couple of times because she wouldn't stop whingeing - and now she's really taking liberties, hopping up to sleep on the couch with me whenever she likes. You would think that would be enough, that being allowed on the couch would satisfy her and she would settle down - but no, she still jumps up to bark at people and chase the cat and most recently to bark at the printer, because she had never heard it before. Now that the printer has been thoroughly put in its place she is happily asleep again against my legs. I know the couch is not the best place for a dog but at least she keeps my legs warm.