08 June 2010

A revelation

One of the ways I am messed up is my pure and undying faith that I will mess up. 
(headspace TMI follows)

07 June 2010

Fire at Betty's Bay

A well-written, understated journal of the fire this weekend. 


Dazed in the cinders. Thank cookies!

The Overberg firefighters are awesome.  Totally awesome.  I just had to say that.

So, it’s been an interesting week.  A lightning strike in the mountains set off a wildfire and we got the news that it was headed towards my parents’ and uncle’s homes on Thursday.  My folks headed that way, I babysat the dog, and we waited.  On Friday the firefighters arrived and started backburning in our area, and by early Saturday morning – I mean not-time-to-go-sleep-yet early – they were off evacuation alert.  The fire got to the fence of the house on the other side of my uncle’s – it was that close.

In the meantime, there was this suddenly-trivial thing in the background.  Called exams.  Wrote statistics this morning, which actually went ok, all things considered.  It’s not like I could focus that well on anything until I got the news on Saturday evening.

All’s well that ends well.  On to Evolution!

30 May 2010

Sunday Snippet: 22 Ways To Avoid Bladder/Kidney Infections

I’ve noticed that there is a fair amount of practical ignorance around cystitis, urinary tract and kidney infections and other similar problems. This is just a list of small but common-sense defences. It’s a reminder for me, too (even after 15 years’ practise, I forget sometimes). I hope they help you.

26 May 2010

I appear to be nuts

The SU chamber choir is auditioning.  They will be doing 'orrible 'orrible stuff like Beethoven's Choral Fantasia, and the J.S. Bach motet Jesu, Meine Freude (which I've did in the Bach Choir some years ago).  And I went, ooh shiny, and seriously considered it.  For more than five seconds.

Cheesum tie me up and flog me, already.  If not seriously emotionally disturbed I must be masochistic.  What part of hearing impaired do you not understand you cottage-cheese-for-brains lilyliver?


Even under this grey sky
Or behind clouds like sour milk in tea
It is good to see the floating moon
   and the serenity she brings.
My Lady, thank you.

22 May 2010

I wish I was on yonder hill

Practical Brother's emergency has left me a little off-kilter, especially as I'm not quite 100% myself.  Also found myself counseling a couple of friends, and not being used to it and tired to boot… well.  I'm feeling particularly lonely today.

Although I share a house, and with family, it's not the same.  The family culture is pretty stiff-upper-lip and I always feel a little… disconnected.  Although there's never any doubt that we love each other.  There's just such a strong resistance to showing it.

And I really, really miss my man.  We're celebrating 12 years together this year, and having to spend the last 2 of them so far apart really sucks toxic pond slime.  It's a physical ache as well, for the countless tiny gestures that build our lives together.  Brushing his shoulder as I go past him.  Spontaneous hugs.  The sight of those awesome arms which are equally delicious hugging me or working on the latest machine or making something magic in the kitchen.  The way I feel my face light up when he walks into the room.  The way he can come up with a chirp that surprises me into a bark/cackle of laughter - and that he can still do that, 12 years on. His support and encouragement, and his need for my support and encouragement.  The way our strengths and weaknesses just… slot into each other, that we complement each other so wonderfully.  Just being so easy with each other.  And trust. 

I see it with Practical Brother and his girlfriend and boy I am jealous.

I love being at university again, and it's good being so close to my family again, and I'm deeply grateful that I had the opportunity, even though it meant moving away, and it's good being so close to my family again.  But, even so.  Lonely.

21 May 2010

Project COOKIES!

One of the reason the last try was a disaster is because the kitchen scale is also past its use-by date.  I measured 100g from a 250g chip box, and when I measured the remainder just-to-be-sure, the scale read 200g.  Um.  So, until I can replace it (because MommaWunda doesn't see the need) I will be converting to cup measures, which I sort of prefer, anyway.

Being slightly distracted, I forgot to recheck how much butter I added, and I had to add more in bits to get the custard dough to hold together.  So I won't be updating it yet.  But the approximate measure was 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup butter, 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1/2 cup custard powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla.  Mix & roll.

A Strange Week

I remembered to take my Vitamins today!  First time since last Wednesday.  Eish.

And I haven't taken any painkillers, aside from to sleep, in four days.  So things are really looking up.

This is a good thing, because I took Practical Brother to the hospital yesterday.  By the time he went into theatre a few hours later (why do they have to check in so early?) he had developed a huge fever.  In his words, his appendix had passed its use-by date.  Poor man.  And it was his birthday on Monday.  And he has to go to the USA next week for an extended business trip.  Fortunately a few colleagues are going with him, because he won't be able to drive for a while.  Apart form the other stuff that you go through recovering from abdominal surgery.

I was very worried, not least because my own appendectomy was the start of a very long, steep and yucky downward spiral.  May his recovery be easier and completely uncomplicated.

So, because I can't draw, and I needed distraction, I made him cookies.  Custard (Mark III) and Coffee-Cranberry-Chocolate Chip (Mark I).  And then worked on sekrit projects One and Two, sekrit because they're intended for somebody, not necessarily because they'll be super-awesome or anything.  Although anything I do or make or say is awesome.  Right?  Right?

Ahem.  Yes.

And today, I took my vitamins (yay!  I hate being in bitch mode), and got stuck into Biochemistry.  (And he's home tonight! Double yay!)

19 May 2010

Final word: Ecology

My favourite overheard-in-class note:

"And in life histories, you often have a choice between polygamy and maligamy...."


Emboidery update (warning: contains pictures)

So I've forgotten how to add photos to posts. oops.

Let's see if this works...

Mushroom thing (because I got tired of practising lines of stitches):

Current project in various stages: (behind break)

I Blind You With Science Beauty

This is close to the most awesome picture I've seen this year.

An Inspiration

This Queen's Garden bag is ... incredible. I think I'm going to print out the picture & hang it on my embroidery corner as a reminder of what I can aspire to, eventually.

Shawkl is running a giveaway right now.

18 May 2010


I was getting very worried about tomorrow's Ecology exam, because of the kidneys. I've lost about two weeks' study time in total, the first week from feeling generally grim and thinking it was 'only' sleeplessness, way too many deadlines, and that sort of thing, and the past week from being high on codeine all the time.

I was able to get through all today without drugs (Yay!) so my brain may function, but still. Today and tomorrow is not enough to cram the entire semester's worth of information.

The perils of learning on the job.


I'm really enjoying this embroidery thing. But then prematurely blogging and stuff gets me. I thought, somehow, that crewel was simply surface embroidery. But then I learned over at Mary Corbet's awesome website that it's a particular kind of embroidery using wool thread. Which I don't have & can't afford.

So I've changed all the labels accordingly. Thank heavens the blog is new, so it wasn't too much hassle.

Oh yes, and I woke with a hangover this morning. Which means that my kidney is - finally - *not* sore enough for me to notice the side effects of codeine. Which means I'm getting better. Yay!

and lo, a new phrase is coined.

Jodi Meadows is not afraid to put socks on her head.

And has some wise things to say about it.

It is amazing how our egos find ways to sneak in the old bugbear of, "what will the neighbours think?" There is always something, some topic, or hobby, or aspect of our careers, in which we want to be taken desperately seriously, and are secretly afraid that it's all rather silly (but don't let anyone know). Yes, my grammar got confused, but, you know, I think it's apt. Because as soon as we start thinking this way, we do get confused. We start thinking in feelings, and memories, and associations, and assumptions. The actual thought part of the process is drowned out by the fears and the assimilated societal norms (which are usually misunderstood anyway - I mean, how sophisticated can a five-year-old be?).

It's a big thing for me, so I have to ballsy up and do something goofy fairly regularly. Otherwise my fears would just overwhelm me and I'd end up curled in bed with the pillow on my head. That's not good. How would I do any embroidery, or reading, or ...?

So I say, all power to socks on the head! (And she's awesome anyway, so there.)

15 May 2010


Mary Corbett over at Needle 'n Thread is running a giveaway for embroiderers. Go look.

Dance, dance, oh thou neurons - dance!

I'm in that happy state where the codeine is still working but I'm almost - almost - able to function. A few hours ago I would not have felt out of place having an earnest conversation with cottage cheese.

This is not all bad, though. I've found some lovely resources, inspirations and have decided what to do for Practical Brother's birthday. Now to Expand My Thread Stash! Yay!

Man of Wonder phoned to check up on me - am I lucky or what? - as he has done since the kidney infection was confirmed. Wednesday, or Thursday. Can't remember. But just the sound of his voice - just thinking of having heard his voice today - somehow manages to make it all okay, and if not okay, then not that important. One day, I will find out what I have done to earn love like this.

So. I'm delirious, and I'm so very screwed for the exams next week, but hey! - I'm still in love! It can't all be that bad!

12 May 2010

Hot Water Bottle

Yesterday was the first exam: genetics. It was very long, and I'm not happy with how I wrote, but I think I may have got 50 - 60% so thumbs are held. Next week will be Statistics and Ecology.

Man of Wonder and I had a lovely, long, no doubt expensive chat last night. Hearing his voice always makes me feel better. I miss him enormously.

And winter has arrived with a whump. I am walking around (and studying) with a hot water bottle permanently attached to my middle. It is helping my back immensely. I'm too young to feel this old!

It's still better than Johannesburg. I'm only wearing 4 layers so far, including jacket, and there's only 2 blankets on the bed plus duvet and sleeping bag.

I am so not made for European weather. I would never be able to survive there!

*later* It would appear that my stiff back is actually something squiffy going on in my pee system. So utterly what I needed right now. So I am dividing my time between woozy dreams and blearily reading up on statistics and ecology in bed, with the hot water bottle trying to work its magic. When I have money again I am going to head in medicine's direction.


Robin McKinley has a giveaway on her blog. Go look! Her writing is beautiful: lyrical, intelligent and she assumes her readers are intelligent.

I love fantasy that makes me reach for the dictionary!

Also, if you're on Facebook, Exclusive Books is running a competition every day this week. It's here.

10 May 2010

Mother's Day

I feel really, really lucky to have the family and friends that I do. Especially my mom. This family spins so hard and fast that if she wasn't there, holding on to routine & what matters, we'd have spun to opposite ends of the galaxy by now.

She's witty, and creative, and good with her hands, and kind, and patient, and an awesome gardener, and saintfully competent, and generous...

If ever (gods forbid, spitspit) I became a parent, I'd want to be like her.

So, because I am broke, and it was the only thing I could do with the stash I had, I made her a spice mix and embroidered a cover thingy to go on top.

I also phoned Technical Mother In Law, which is good anyway - she's an awesome woman. It's really tough that all her children have moved away.

Sometimes, living in the real world and real economy sucks toxic kali pond slime. As Robin McKinley says.

ETA: Cover thingy photo!  which I'm really rather proud of, all things considered.  Love you, Ma.

… hilarity ensued

Patently, I got something horribly wrong. The cookies melted. I had to use rollertowel to soak off the fat. Ewwww.

…and the worst part? I couldn't stop munching them. It went something like this:

ME: Urgh. These look like those dreadful ginger snaps I made when I was 12. Dammit.
NOSE: Hmmmmm.

*a few minutes as they cool*

*I try one*
ME: Dammit. It's like eating golden syrup. Dang.
TEETH: With oil. Ew. We're all coated!
STOMACH: Nom. More.
ME: No way! They don't even taste like custard!
ME: Uh-HUH! Bad stomach! I don't like these!

*I get busy with making sure the oven's off (three times), tidying up, washing up…*
ME: Wow, these silicone baking sheets are really hard to clean.
*Tidies up some more*
ME: HEY! I said no more! Where did you get that, anyway?
STOMACH: Mphmffnomnomfff
ME: Dangit.

This was just rude.

07 May 2010

An Important question

When using chain stitch to fill a shape, what kind? Ordinary chain stitch or detatched? What's the difference?

This calls for an experiment.

Because, frankly, the less satin stitch I have to do, the better. Mine can be most charitably called hessian stitch.

But I will improve, eventually. In the meantime, because I am crazy and want to actually make useable items that won't make anyone's eyes bleed, I'm investigating other options.

(edited to remove really annoying typos)

02 May 2010

Project COOKIES!

*this is a test on pre-emptive posting*

I got this recipe for custard creams and tried it out last weekend. It wasn't bad - and the timing was excellent as Arty Sister came visiting - but I wasn't happy. It had the same reason I hardly have scones at coffee shops anymore - that aftertaste of baking powder that is just offputting to my jaded palate. Especially if you're tempted to scoff a lot. (By the way, you're more likely to get about 20 single biscuits if you make them about the size of a teaspoon)

So I'm going to try again, but with a few changes.

Equal parts custard and flour, to half parts butter & icing sugar. One teaspoon vanilla dust. Will keep youse posted.

30 April 2010


(in keeping with the tone of this post, I had intended to upload this yesterday. Time, and a candle to light, got in the way. Oh well)

What happened to the week? No, really. We had a public holiday and all, but suddenly it's Friday. The irony is that I had more time on my hands when I was working. Except for the Male Bitchiest Boss From Hell, but that was a very long time ago.

So. Since last Friday I have completed two assignments (to spec, and on deadline), written two tests - no, I lie the first Biochemistry test was last Tuesday - and by next Friday I will have written three more of each. Assignments: Statistics, Ecology and Macro-evolution; Tests: Biochemistry Practical, Genetics and Evolution/Systematics. I am actually looking forward to the exams (starting in ten days) so that things will calm down: how weird is that? So tonight I updated way too many things, did research, and am finishing with embroidery to wind down my mind. Tomorrow the hamster hits the wheel bigtime.

Thank the gods for yoga yesterday.

Man of Wonder suggests that I am turning the needle too much in my embroidery, and that if I learn how to avoid this, my stitches & sheen will look much more even. This is a useful hint. When I can get my stitches to *be* even, I will start consciously looking at that. Picture to follow, I hope, to offer you too a chance to giggle. Sorry about the quality, CorelDraw 8 does not like Windows 7. And my budget does not like the idea of an upgrade.

That little dot is going to be on another mushroom. I had juuuuust enough thread left for it.

In other news, I have finally received my poor abused copy of Sunshine‡ back from my sister. Leading to a hilarious non-conversation+ as a result of her mishearing my "best vampire book ever" as "best novel ever." Now I love Robin McKinley, but that is taking things a little far, even for this fan. I don't think I'm capable of choosing a best novel ever. Maybe a Top Twenty, and that's a stretch. I am very happy to get it back, even though it meant fielding a misdirected clumsy attempt at pop psychology* on several hours way too few sleep.

Far from least: Blessed Samhain to all observers. (Practitioners? Applicable? Everyone who cares?) May the memories of your dear departed sustain, comfort and inspire you. And Blessed Beltaine, you folks up north. The finest excuse for a party I ever came across! :)

‡ it's really about prejudice, and identity, but it uses vampires to do it. Highly recommended and I reckon snots the knock out of Anne Rice. Sparkly things do not warrant a comparison.
+yes, that stolen McKinley phrase is exactly appropriate :)
*So I enjoy stories where the protagonist doesn't give up trying even though they are scared out of their minds and way out of depth. So what? What's to be snarky about that?

Music: Old Souls - Faith and the Muse

24 April 2010

Murphy's Bitch, or, How to Feel 100% Twitty

No, not the modern meaning neither.

Sacrificed gmph hours’ precious work on the assignment due 23rd to study for the test 24th. Discovered on the 23rd that I’d studied the wrong category of “theory of practical.”
Discovered, while writing the test, that what I’d studied did actually help me fumble through, but it would’ve been better to study the other half of that wrong category.

23 April 2010


So, this is a first time, lets see what happens post.

Move along, nothing to see here