28 February 2013

End of Summer

Last day of summer and it's 27 degrees! And set to stay this way, yay. I've got to say, my first 2013 summer has been pretty good and I hope the second one is too (that is, the Irish/European summer I plan on having instead of winter). Although for being a picturesque little beach town Colac Bay doesn't have the most dependable weather and on a lot of these purely sunny days it has been overcast or foggy out there. So time to spend a week in town, try to get some work done and find new places to take the dog. Work this week has been good so far but I'll have to start working nights because I just can't be inside working while the sun is out - while it's possible that all of autumn will be warm and sunny it's also possible that it will get frosty and cold and stay that way, so with that thought in mind I guess I best make the most of it, just in case.

This past week I have had two scares with the car - first some fool in front of me slowed down real suddenly on the open road, probably because the sun was in his eyes and he couldn't see - but I of course also couldn't see, despite my sunglasses and the sun visor, so I didn't see his brakelight and only saw the car slowing when I was almost on top of it. I had to brake real fast and got jolted against my seatbelt and the poor dog went flying off her seat. What sort of silly person doesn't check behind them before slowing from 100 right down to about 40? I was too shocked to toot at the stupid person as well. Then just today I was waiting to turn at the traffic lights and the car coming in the opposite direction turned its blinker on, to turn the opposite way to me - which would mean there was no oncoming traffic and I could go, right? Except that fool with his blinker on wasn't actually turning and wasn't watching the road either, would have run right into me if I was going slow enough to stop suddenly. Why don't people in Invercargill know how to use their blinkers properly? So I have had a bad car week and will be sticking to my bike for awhile, what with this beautiful weather and all.

And on a final note, Cher has a new teddy bear:

22 February 2013

Lots of stories, what a week...

This week has been a big one, packed full of ridiculous things to distract me from my work. On Monday I was out in Colac Bay taking the dog for a walk when we were joined by two other dogs (which to be honest I sort of went by their place on purpose because Cher likes having friends). Their people weren't home and they wanted to come with us so I took them to the beach and let them tire my dog out with their running and playing and fetch. Then I took them home and closed the gate on them. Only it turns out that the giant one can take a running jump over the fence and I couldn't let just one dog follow me and leave the other all alone so I opened the gate back up and let them follow us back home. I took my computer outside and tried to get  more work done while they played together in the yard, except the black one is obsessed with fetch and hunted around the garden till she found some tennis balls, then wouldn't leave me alone. When it began to get late I took the dogs back to their own place and this time their people were there so they went home and left us. Oh, and did I mention that one is giant? He's huge, like a little horse.

However, that was not the end of my day. Later that afternoon I decided to take the dog for another walk through a reserve area in Riverton, as I had to go get groceries anyway. I found the reserve and drove up a big hill to get there, but at the top I wasn't sure if it was OK to park on the grass so I went to park on the side of the little road. Then this happened:

I'm not quite sure how it happened but I was very worried that I had caused some damage. Plus I had no phone credit and there was no-one else up there. Luckily, before I decided to walk down the hill to find help a car drove up and I begged for help - the driver took a look and reassured me that my car was probably fine, just stuck. However, he was just one man and had no tow rope so couldn't help much. But luckily he was kind enough to drive back down the hill and get help from the garage. And he was right about the car too - when help came all they had to do was put a block under the wheel and give it a little tow and next thing you know the car was free. Yay.

Despite all the dramas I got a decent amount of work done on Monday, but on Tuesday my motivation and focus disappeared, as did the sun, so I couldn't even take the day off work to enjoy the last of summer (in fact, the entire start of the week was overcast out there, how disappointing). On Tuesday there were no dramas, except I took the dog for a walk and then left the beach and walked on the road and she kept freaking me out by unexpectedly crossing the road to bark at sheep and other dogs. I had to put up with Mum complaining about this and that and the next thing because she's not impressed with turning 50. I went for a drive and found a walking track that I'd never heard of before but it turns out that it was a small part of a series of tracks that run up the entire country - it was nice too, and the dog found a muddy pond to get dirty in so she was happy. I didn't get the car stuck anywhere this time.

Finally Wednesday arrived and I got back to work. No more dramas but on one of our many walks on the beach Cher got carried away with rolling in smelly things - lots of old seaweed and a dead bird - so I had to take her right into the water to make sure she wouldn't be smelly. I hiked my dress up and coaxed her in past the waves, only to have her come that little bit too close and give me a good scratch while doggy-paddling. Now I have a giant bruise on my leg because she has heavy paws and it always seems to be worse when they scratch you underwater - maybe because it's cold. So there we are, in the water, I turn to her to make sure she is wet all over and not covered in bad smells and next thing you know a wave sneaks up behind me and soaks my knickers and the bottom of my dress. So that will teach me for paddling too deep. It was surprisingly not that cold either. And the cloud cover finally lifted, leaving us with a beautiful evening.

On Thursday I had such a busy day, there was doggy obedience school, going to the vet, making cupcakes for Mum's birthday and the various things we arranged for her, like getting our nails done, then touch (the semi-final and the team we played was so fast) and rushing straight from that to a birthday dinner - for which I had to quickly get changed in the car, in the carpark on the side of the rugby field, as modestly as possible. No time even to think yesterday, let alone exercise the dog properly so that would probably explain why she kept jumping on my bed and waking me up in the early hours of this morning. So today we don't have that problem, we were out running up and down the Waihopai river for at least an hour first thing, and now Cher is still exhausted and fast asleep. However, I did manage to loose her leash and it was quite new so I'm kicking myself for that one.

Now it's Friday and a beautiful day, though this morning was frosty. I hope the good weather extends into autumn because I don't want to say goodbye to the sun yet and the leaves are already changing colour.

17 February 2013

A seemingly no-progress week

This week has not been a great week. The thesis, that giant looming thing that should be all-important right now, has been progressing in a very intermittent way. The week started well and I finally sent some work to my supervisor - then I lost my motivation. What really screws up the pace is trying to make so many negative results sound like a significant level of work. I mean, I did work my ass off to get those results, it's just my bad luck that nothing worked. Then when it comes time to write them up, a year's worth of work can be summed up in a couple of paragraphs and a single table. So most of my week was spent staring at these paragraphs, trying to figure out if I could write more without repeating myself. The rest of the week was spent lazing around with the dog. This next week I'm going out to Colac Bay again where there at least isn't the distraction of people and shops. Though there might be the distraction of sunny days as the rain has finally stopped. Here in Invercargill we have discovered a couple of nice walks, like up along the Waihopai river and into Thompsons Bush, a small reserve area - altogether the walk is nearly 2 hours so between that and finding some random dog to play with, my poor girl was completely tuckered out all afternoon. Which meant that for once I could paint my toenails without her standing on my feet and ruining them.

But actually, to get back to the story about the Waihopai walkway, it turns out that there is this little reserve behind the end of the walk, in amongst all the farm land, that I'd never seen before - turns out there are quite a lot of little areas like this around:

I don't know if we're allowed in the little reserve area but there's probably native birds in there so I haven't tried because I know how much Cher would like to chase them. Instead I let her go after the ducks but this river has high banks and the dog wasn't brave enough to jump in after them, so she just jumped through the long grass instead. Must be exhausting - but hilarious to watch. Also it was hilarious to watch her chase a little bird straight into a wire fence, though I felt bad for laughing in case she hurt herself. She didn't seem to worried about it though, so I guess she was ok. Hopefully next time she'll see the fence before she runs into it.

After all that she need a good nap. I wouldn't have minded one either, but instead I had to do the dishes and my washing. But at least it's sunny.

11 February 2013

Back to the thesis again

How bad am I, taking off nearly two full weeks to enjoy the sun and then make a costume instead of doing my thesis work! Especially with me having mostly slow days before that...in my defense, the weather was so hot it was hard to do anything other than lie somewhere cool. Strange here in Invercargill, but I'm not complaining - in fact, I would like it to come back please. Because today was rainy and cold and despite already being wet from the rain the dog still wanted to jump in our little city river (she has decided she likes water after all, though she's still not keen on actual swimming). I have learnt that when she really, really wants to chase a duck no amount of whistling or calling will stop her and that the Otepuni (our little river) ends as a muddy creek - a smelly muddy creek. So I had a very wet, dirty, stinky dog keeping me company this afternoon, while I did my best to put in a full day of real work. Which actually went quite well, I think the costume making break helped. Speaking of which, my costume turned out amazingly, though to be honest I'm not overly keen to see the Shakespeare in the Park production this year, it doesn't really seem very interesting or fun. Here is my creation, the fantastic (if I do say so myself) blue dress:

The costume making actually ended up being sort of stressful - we were seriously limited in time and working in a very small, stuffy space, missing out on the gorgeous sunshine and not even able to open up the windows and doors because Mum's cats are still too new to the place. Plus the poor doggie had such a boring week, being tied up outside half the day. Though I think it was good for her, she has gotten so much better at staying and not whining or howling and now doesn't really need to be tied at all, so long as it's not for too long she'll just wait of her own accord. Now this week, while I am trying so hard to put in 8 hours of PhD work a day, I plan to take her interesting places for big long walks so that I have time to think. Apparently there are new walking tracks right on the edge of the city so I must check them out, because while the park is great for a walk, everybody else thinks so too and technically a dog should be on a leash there, so every time we see another dog I have to call her back and put the leash on, and then she pulls because she just wants to greet the other dog and play. There is no dog park here and so many people are uptight about letting their dogs run free - even at the beach! Yesterday I met a woman with her dog and she has just moved her and was disappointed by the poor attitude to dogs playing together here, so it was lucky that we came across each other because both of the dogs got a good long play and hopefully we will do it again. After all, the only other animals my family has are the cats and Cher doesn't really seem to get that cats are not to be chased. Luckily our first obedience class is this week. Except the trainer will probably not be impressed with the fact that I let my dog chase birds - in fact I encourage her, because it tires her out. Although it often also leaves her covered in mud.

Anyway, speaking of cats, yesterday one of Mum's (the psycho one) managed to get out into the sunshine. She kept an eye on him but next thing you knew he just disappeared. She called me and I came to help her look but we couldn't find him. The house next door had a big yard full of long grass and trees - it looked so neglected that I assumed the lot was empty and jumped over the fence to look for the cat. Bad assumption. A dog began barking and came tearing towards me, a big solid thing that looked like a pit-bull. Normally I wouldn't be afraid of a strange dog but I was intruding after all, that dog would have had every right to go for me. So what did I do? I screamed of course, and quickly looked for an easy way to jump back over the fence. As I jumped the dog turned back so I think I would have been safe enough, but you can never be sure. When I was safe on the other side I noticed that I had cut my knee on the tin fence - all thanks to that bloody mental cat. We couldn't find him and there was nothing much to be done so we sat around and waited for him to come back - and he did, eventually. After he'd been out for maybe an hour we heard his bell and went out to find him. He came towards Mum but when he saw me he hissed and ran away (that's often his response to me, he's a real bastard cat). So I had to hide and he finally came to Mum and went inside, then immediately hid under the bed for awhile. That was OK because we had to be going, but as he crept out from under the bed and began to wash all the dirt off of his white fur I saw that is stumpy foot was bleeding (he only has three full feet you see) so perhaps he had a run-in with a tin fence as well.

03 February 2013

Sea fog, sightseeing and bee-stings

So the last week of gorgeous hot weather was great, except for the couple of days that I spent by the beach assuming that it would be all gorgeous blue skies, only to find a thick sea fog covering everything. That wasn't very fun.

I did get some work done, but not as much as I should have. I don't know how I'm going to find my motivation. Instead I went for a drive, I explored a bit of Colac Bay, and it turns out there is a lake right there up the road that I never knew about! It's a reserve and surrounded by bush so not so easy to see from the road.

On the way I found an interesting pond full of stumps.

Then some cows came to say hello.

There were big blue dragonflies as well.

I also watched movies and read a book and baked cookies (delicious cookies). I'm teaching Cher to roll over and now, after her running away from my friends who I left her with and making it all the way home over a really busy road, I'm trying to teach her to cross the road safely. Then there's touch practice which in this heat completely takes it out of me, plus is bringing back my shin splints. It's definitely more intense than tag rugby. So I manage to keep myself busy despite not doing my real work. I'm trying to encourage Cher to swim as well but she still won't have a bar of it.

On top of everything, today at touch practice poor Cher got a bee sting. I noticed her suddenly whimpering and trying to get at one of her front paws so I went to her and knelt down and what would you know - I got stung. There was a bumblebee on the ground and it got us both. Turns out they can sting multiple times, like wasps. However, it also got squashed between the two of us standing and kneeling on it. Luckily I'm not allergic to bumblebees and it looks like Cher's not either. No lasting harm, she got over it quickly enough and so did I.

Now, instead of working, I am working on making a costume for Shakespeare in the Park - my Mum and I are doing one each, Shakespearian dresses for the Merry Wives of Windsor. It's been years since we have made costumes and these two are going to be pretty spectacular. I have claimed the little blue and white dress, this particular wife will look like Cinderella. The other is all pink and green and will look like a candy shop. There is only a week until the show starts and we were only given the fabric a couple of days ago so it is a bit of a rush job. Plus the poor dog has to be tied up outside during the costume making sessions because my Mum's cats have finally arrived from Abu Dhabi. She doesn't like being tied up - after almost a whole day of it today (with walks between of course) she has stopped crying and is mostly sulking. The cats are also a bit sulky, not to mention jumpy, because they're getting used to a new place. They are both a lot quieter than they used to be, but I'd say that's just the shock and they will get noisy again. So there'll be an update on the creativity side of things soon - more interesting than the thesis writing.