vilakins: (fireworks)
Our neighbour Michael the Bookbinder invited us to a new year's party. He's the one who dresses in Victorian clothes every day...

... even when clearing the gutters on his house.

He invited us to a new year's party. Photos including Noisel the cat )

I discovered from all Michael's books on the Napoleonic wars that he's a wargamer with thousands of tiny hand-painted soldiers and equipment from the period; we spent some time looking at those and he was impressed with how much I knew. I used to wargame but my period was the WW2 North African campaign and I used boards and counters. I wish I still had them now.

I'm back

25 Nov 2016 04:16 pm
vilakins: (vila b&w)
Thanks for your support and best wishes, all who commented - the operation went well and I'm back home after two nights in hospital in Dunedin. I slept and read most of yesterday (yay for my Kindle) but I'm feeling much more lively today and haven't even had a lie down which is a huge improvement.

And while I was away, the solar installation was completed and is up and running. :-)
vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)
I'm off to hospital in Dunedin this morning for my operation. I won't be taking my laptop so I'll be offline for 2-3 days. I'll post when I get back.
vilakins: (attolian me)
This Roman me icon has given me ideas for next year which will include that wig and necklace and should be cooler. The striped jacket I wore was far too hot in the sun.

Sunday was the fete held in the Victorian Precinct which was closed off to cars. I only spent three hours there in the afternoon so I missed a lot of the street entertainment - check out these excellent photos on Facebook to see more than I did (plus more parade photos).

I can offer Morris dancers for [personal profile] watervole, acrobats, and Queen Victoria with a difference.

My photos )
vilakins: (cricket)
The sun came out for the noon parade though it was raining in the morning. Oamaru weather, you finally came through!

Parade photos )

In the evening I went to the murder mystery dinner which was great fun. Most of the diners/audience were in costume and the people at my table were very friendly. The teenager beside me thought I looked like the 5th Doctor, hence the icon. :-) I took a photo of fellow diners but it didn't come out; that's been happening lately. The phone gets a new SD card tomorrow.
vilakins: (attolian me)
It's been sad and grey and wet here for weeks, and though it fined up today, the garden party in the garden below us was moved to a hall and the have-a-go-at-croquet event was cancelled because there were floods on Wednesday and the ground is too soggy and wet. There's another garden party tomorrow in a different location and that still looks to be going ahead.

As the theme is "Medicine in the Victorian Era" I dressed as one of the Three Men in a Boat, the hypochondriac one, armed with two of Greg's Victorian bottles he dug out of the Avon River mud as a kid, one labelled "Doctor Brooke's Solar Elixir" and the other "Bonnington's Irish Moss for Coughs and Colds".

The icon BTW is as close as I can get to Victorian though it's actually me dressed as a Roman woman.

Elevenses with Mrs Beeton in the Early Settlers Hall

This wonderful gentleman was there. That was an excellent event: $5 for a selection of savouries and cakes including Madeira cake, a cup of tea, and a glass of Madeira - I can imagine this charmer as the singer of Flanders and Swann's "Have some Madeira m'dear". Plus you could try your hand at Victorian parlour games.

More photos )

Apothecary Tea Party at the Sanatorium AKA the Opera House

A woman and her son in the Opera House. I just noticed that there's a nurse carrying a severed foot behind her. :-P Also in the background is the entrance to the Hysteria Room.

More photos including a couple possibly NSFW )

TV recs?

15 Nov 2016 11:25 am
vilakins: (screen)
I refuse to give the shithead and its supporters and other right-wing and religious extremists the power to depress me. The best revenge - resistance in this case - is living well.

Entertainment and laughter are good for mental and physical health. I have recently discovered the very funny Mike and Molly (real-looking people!!!) and am going through season 1. Victoria is wonderful; even Greg is enjoying it to his mild surprise. I'm catching up with Person of Interest and still watching Once Upon a Time, Modern Family, Big Bang (of course!) and the Aussie comedy-drama House Husbands. An icon reminded me that I need to finish Psych and also Chuck at some point. And probably some others that I let slip.

I've probably missed some out there, but I'm looking for recs for series I should have known about. The three comedies above were all recced by friends and I'm very grateful.

So, please let me know about clever comedies and entertaining series of other kinds; no graphic violence, vicious crime or torture, or terrorists please. They don 't have to be current or even recent.
vilakins: (eep)
There was a large 7.5 earthquake felt over much of the country here overnight with damage and two dead, but we didn't feel it at all where we are; I slept right through it. There were tsunami warnings, but no tsunamis as far as I know, just some large waves.
vilakins: (poppy)
Our garden continues to surprise me with new flowers (more photos another time) but yesterday I discovered we have several herbs (lemon balm, mint, fennel, rosemary, and possibly more) - and poppies that are just coming out. Very appropriate for armistice day, so I took a photo today in the rain.

It looks a bit sad and wilty in the wet but I suppose that's also appropriate for the day.

We had solar panels put on our roof today, the penultimate stage in the setup. This is all a good thing but I've been so stressed with the shouty (but nice) guys clumping around on the roof and inside for three days that I've had to escape to cafes with my Kindle for some peace and quiet. An official meter guy does the final connection next week and we'll have power, but only in real time till we get a battery. Solar power gets sold back to the grid here at a ridiculously low rate so we plan to keep all of ours for our own use eventually.

The panels had stickers saying "Warning: generates electricity when exposed to light". Well, I should hope so!
vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)
About two months ago I got a hernia at the incision site of the operation I had in March (the one it turned out I didn't need). It's a big one and after a CT scan yesterday, they're operating to repair it on the 23rd of this month.

I have three chronic conditions, one from when I was a baby, and the others developed more recently, and they make operations and anaesthesia more dangerous. I had to stay overnight on the high care unit last time due to really low blood pressure. I never mention these things as I refuse to be defined by medical nouns (I'm not a XXX or a YYY; I'm a person that happens to have those conditions). I usually feel fine but I'm only kept alive by drugs which I prefer to forget.

So much for the person who didn't think my comments had any validity because I'm "able-bodied".

I really hope this will sort things out and I'll get through the operation well and recover quickly with no more complications. I'm fed up with all this, and nervous.

At least I have the week-long Victorian fete next week to take my mind off it all. I have my outfit ready: tan trousers, white shirt, striped blazer, and a straw boater - I'm going to be cross-dressing a la Three Men in a Boat as I'm not one for dresses and bonnets. Garden parties, parades, steam trains, lots of cool things happening!

There will be photos though I've been slack about posting ones I've already taken. I'll try to clear the recent backlog this week.
vilakins: (spring (kowhai))
... well and truly. (For those northerners who are puzzled that it's spring here, check out the effect of axial tilt on a planet's seasons.) Most of the blossom has gone from our garden by now because I am slack at doing the photo thing (and Flickr has changed how to embed photos, thanks very much, Flickr), but the garden still smells amazing. All photos taken 2-3 weeks ago, but there you go. Oh, and we do have kowhai in our garden, as shown in the icon. :-)

Blossom downhill )

Uphill garden and cats )
vilakins: (data)
2. Any of your stories inspired by personal experience?

Just one: Work Experience, in which Vila is sentenced to work in an office and makes the acquaintance of a certain computer tech called Avon. The work part is based on my experience as a programmer, and the stupid, petty, bullying manager Jon Heton is a direct portrait of the utter bastard with a very similar name who was the reason I left that particular job. Various incidents either happened to me or to others, and some of the pranks perpetrated were ones I or others played on colleagues in various jobs.

I also turned two other bastard colleagues from a different job into the two torturers in Lynx - Rescues, but that's it. I prefer writing about what I don't know. :-)

6. Care to share a favourite hurt/comfort fic?

I'm hopeless at picking favourites of anything! Surprisingly I h=only have 5 stories tagged as such. OK, The Hand of Friendship.

19. Any fandom tropes you can't resist?

Hurt/comfort of course, though I haven't written as many as I'd thought. I don't know the names of the trope, but odd-couple-type friendship, and opposites attract (Vila/Soolin).

vilakins: My cats Claudia and Tessa in the same curled-up pose (copycats)
I don't normally go for these memes, but this one, nicked from astrogirl2, looks interesting. Pick 1-3 questions and I'll answer them.
  1. How did you come up with the title to [insert fic]?
  2. Any of your stories inspired by personal experience?
  3. What character do you identify with most?
  4. Is there a song or a playlist to associate with [insert fic]?
  5. If you wrote a sequel to [insert fic], what would it be about?
  6. Care to share a favourite hurt/comfort fic?
  7. Care to share a favourite crack fic?
  8. How would you describe your style?
  9. Do you have a guilty pleasure in fic (reading or writing)?
  10. Write or describe an alternative ending to [insert fic title].
  11. What's the angstiest idea you've ever come up with?
  12. What's the weirdest AU you've ever come up with?
  13. Got any premises on the back burner that you'd care to share?
  14. Is there a fic you wish someone else would write (or finish) for you?
  15. How do you begin a story--with the plot, or the characters?
  16. Are you an "architect" or a "gardener" : how much do you plan in advance, versus letting the story unfold as you go?
  17. Do you have any discarded scenes / story lines / projects?
  18. Are there any writers (fanfic or otherwise) you consider an influence?
  19. Any fandom tropes you can't resist?
  20. Any fandom tropes you can't stand?
  21. A pairing you might like to write for, but haven't tried yet.
  22. A secondary (or underrated) character you want to see more of in fic?
  23. Do you like more general prompts, or more specific ones?
  24. A character you enjoy making suffer.
  25. A character you want to protect.
  26. Major character death--do you ever write/read it? Is there a character whose death you can't tolerate?
vilakins: (lazy)
My active reading lists have dwindled so much, I've consolidated all my LJ and DW people (non-community-or-feed) filters and even then they're pretty thin.

But then, I haven't been posting much either, partly because of that, and partly because I take ages to get round to cropping, resizing, and uploading the backlog photos I have planned to post. Maybe I'll work backwards from the most recent.

In the meantime:
  • Coolness: The weather's been dry (so not like Auckland) and the blossoms here have been stunning - we get four seasons, unlike the hot-and-wet and cold-and-wet of Auckland. ;-) And on Saturday night when we were on our way out for dinner, there was a huge orange blood moon over the sea, with wisps of cloud making black stripes, a tiger moon!
  • Victorian festival: coming up in November. My friend from way back who moved here this year too showed me all her Victorian gear, mostly made of old curtains, but I think I'll go for the Three Men in a Boat look with my striped blazer and a boater if I can find one online. I don't do dresses.
  • Writing: I haven't managed to do any writing or art, but come November I'll try to get back into the long fic of doom when picowrimo comes up. I did meet a pro writer who wants me to join an international writers' group which does a lot of e-publishing. Hmmm. I'd have to have an original novel idea that's not one of the ones I've run in my head for private entertainment as they're a bit derivative, dating from teenage years. And yeah, so not ready for that with all the problems here. Plus she's terrifyingly brilliant and confident, and a bit scary. But fascinating!
  • House: We still haven't unpacked completely, and with less storage than we had in Auckland, it's getting hard to figure out where things should go (and that includes Out). There's also a huge amount of work to do as only the two sun rooms can be painted right away; the rest of the walls need stripping and replastering at a guess, and it's hard to get people in to advise. At least now I have some recced names which might mean they'll actually show up and do  stuff. This is all up to me as Greg's away most of each week in Christchurch at a client site.
  • Klutziness: We went to Timaru to look at lighting because there aren't any lighting shops here, and that's what I was doing, looking up at the lights when I tripped over a stand. I hit the floor, bashing my knee and a finger, but the worst part was that my left show got ripped off without coming undone and at least one tow got broken. This has happened before. There's nothing to do but tape them together and put up with it but it's been almost a month now. :-( If I'm not careful and bang my foot or walk on uneven ground, it hurts.
Anyway. Various photos to come. [slopes off now to have a cup of tea and a read]
vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)
As some of you were interested in seeing more of our windows and views, here are some more photos taken today.

Plus added cats! )
vilakins: Vila dozing off at the teleport controls (alert)
... was probably yesterday in this time zone.

But hey, photos of all three taken since Friday here in the Oamaru midwinter.

Sebastian is unimpressed by snow
Sebastian is unimpressed by snow.

More )
vilakins: (winter)
We're still unpacking and trying to organise where things go in a house with half the storage. This is complicated by like things not being packed with like, or even things which were on the same desk being packed together. I've found most of my computer gear and eventually the cables, but so far the rest eludes me. And as the study is full of unpacked boxes, there's nowhere to put my desk anyway. So the decluttering continues, and I thought I'd done a good job of that before we left. Now it's extreme ruthlessness time.

The house is lovely and sunny and warm which is a good thing as the pond down the hill is frozen and they're predicting snow! SNOW! Not since I lived in Germany have I seen snow in a town. Not that it'll stay long here by the sea. Greg is nervous that the power might go off so he's laid in lots of firewood. But then, fiddling with the fire has become a favourite pastime. The cats enjoy it too.

Cool things about Oamaru
  • The local supermarket has baristas and coffee cup holders in the trolleys.
  • Excellent cafes and restaurants.
  • The local cinema is small, but has four digital screens with leather loungers and sofas - we went to see Dough and were in a room that seated maybe 20. They do 3D too PLUS they have a steampunk Millennium Falcon built of found parts in the foyer. Next time I'm taking my phone to get a photo.
  • We were in the hardware store when a friend I've known since high school rushed up to me and hugged me. Was she on holiday here? No, she moved here in April. She'd been living in Dunedin and I hadn't seen her for a few years. SO COOL! We're already planning to do some of our comedy routines at an upcoming concert.
  • There's a newcomers' group who meet for coffee at the Opera House, games evenings, book club, and walks in the park below us. Everyone's super-friendly, like everyone else here, and though most come from elsewhere in the country, there are people from the US, Hungary, and Pakistan.
  • We went to the monthly games evening last night, taking Rummikub, a favourite Israeli game. The hosts have so many games, they fill four bookcases. I thought we were a bit OTT with about 20 games. My friend came too and it was huge fun with fun people - I'm so going again.
  • The medical practice I signed on with has four doctors, two of whom are Americans. The one I saw for a checkup last week turned up at the games evening - small town! The other one I don't know but she's Dr Liberatore. :-D
That all makes up for the small library which hardly has any SF and makes me sad because I'll have to go the ebook route which could get expensive.
vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))
... but surrounded by boxes and chaos. Items, whether breakable or extremely not, are wrapped in so many layers of paper, they're three times their size and unrecognisable. We were searching for the electric jug and things we thought were the same size were things like glasses. This means a very large number of boxes piled in almost every room. We slept here last night but I was awake for a while worrying about everything we have to do.

We've unpacked the kitchen stuff and have only just found the box with the electric jug and the cat biscuits - in the same box which didn't make sense as I used to keep their food in the laundry, but I was so relieved since we're picking the little guys up tomorrow morning. It doesn't feel like home yet but you know about cats and boxes.

The cats...
... arrive at Dunedin Airport tomorrow, and we'll take a day off unpacking to be with them. Ha, I was just typing here and saw a tabby approaching out of the corner of my eye and thought it was Ashley out of habit. I'd left the back door open and it was Noisel from next door!

Our old home...
... went on the market today! Doesn't it look amazing (and after all that painting and stripping back to wood etc, it should)! Of course photos always look better than reality, they know how to make rooms look huge with angles, and the staging makes the best of any place, but it really is a lovely private house and I did enjoy living there. I won't miss the humidity,  the traffic, and te ridiculous cost of living in Auckland though, and I have to say the weather here is gorgeous: blue skies and sunny and warm once the sun's up (but scarf and mitt time when it's not). I took some photos before the packers came and they're much more realistic.

... is friendly and quirky and has great cafes and restaurants. So far I've seen three men dressed in tweed outfits complete with waistcoats and tweed flat caps, a steampunk rifle mounted in the Steam Cafe, and a woman in the bank with short, spiky magenta hair with a huge paper flower in it, and bright gypsy-style clothes. Hey, I like this place! As for the steampunk, I already have a leather jacket and pilot's helmet; I just need the goggles, a fob watch, and a raygun to be pretty much ready for the November steampunk festival.

I need a new local icon instead of the Auckland one I used. It will probably be steampunk.
vilakins: (winter)
We got here two nights ago, but our furniture should arrive today. In the meantime we're in the Bookbinder's Retreat, a tiny but cosy place. We spent most of yesterday cleaning the house. Empty houses are a bit sad, look smaller than they are, and show all their flaws without contents to distract. I will have to paint all the things but not right away.

The weather is like it was last August when we were down here: clear and sunny during the day so you can eat at outside cafe tables and enjoy the warmth, but almost freezing (two degrees above) at night. I will need to unpack all my woollies when our stuff gets here.

If it does, tomorrow will be madly unpacking and setting up the minimum for our comfort and the cats' welcome to their new home; we pick them up at Dunedin Airport on Friday morning. I can't wait to see them, though I'\\we've quickly made friends with Noisel* (I think that's the spelling going by how Michael says it), a magnificent and very friendly tabby who visits our garden. I hope he and our cats get on well.

* Michael said it was predictive text for "mongrel", though I'm not sure how. It doesn't seem to be a word.
vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))
Auckland confirmed our decision to leave it when the grass by our driveway was so wet that I almost got my shoes sucked off by the mud. Then when I hit the road to Hamilton, an hour after leaving I was inching along the motorway and still in Auckland. A few years ago I'd be almost in Hamilton by that time. No wonder so many people are leaving for the regions with traffic gridlock having got so much worse in the last couple of years, and of course the expense of living there.

We spent the first night in Hamilton with my sister, then spent most of yesterday driving to Greytown to stay with friends. Today has been the first relaxing day for a couple of weeks, being able to sleep late and have a leisurely brunch in town. We then wandered round the Greytown antique, garden, and retro bike shops. I bought an art deco tray and Greg got leather bicycle clips and a coffee cup holder for his bike. One shop owner said he'd left Auckland 7 years ago and all he missed was the sea. I'll miss more than that, but there are more new things I'll enjoy. :-)

After dinner (Malaysian, I think: yay) we'll head off to Wellington and the night ferry. We disembark in the early morning and drive to Oamaru, about 7 hours not including stops. The weather is miserable and grey and wintry but I'm hoping it won't be too wet; I want to see the countryside and enjoy this road trip.

I just rang the cattery and was relieved to hear that the girls are happy and settled, and Sebastian is still very shy but is now eating. Only a few more days till we see them again when they'll get lots of consolong cuddles and attention.
vilakins: Vila in cold-weather clothes looking unhappy (weather)
The packers are here packing up our life into big boxes. They're here tomorrow too. Soon all we'll have is our bed and the stuff we need for the trip to Oamaru. I'm not sure I'll ever move again, the way I'm feeling now. I know it'll be great once we're actually there and unpacked with cats, but the process is horrible.

The cats were picked up yesterday and taken out to the cattery in the country which Jetpets use. I almost cried when Ashley put her paws through the bars of her carry crate to touch me. I rang there this morning and she was up a cat tree, but as usual Sebastian won't eat. They're there for about 10 days so he'd better stop pining soon. He's the one who gets the most upset, also about visitors, so I do worry about him.

I got soaked going out to get a prescription refill, and according to my weather app, it's going to rain for the next week or so, all over the country apparently. So much for what could have been a fun road trip.
vilakins: (fur balls)
Yesterday we went to a shop that imports Ikea (we don't actually have Ikea here) and ordered two chests of drawers, a wardrobe, and a coffee table to arrive at the Oamaru house just after us. Houses that age don't have any built-in storage so we need somewhere for our clothes. The coffee table will match the chairs and sofa we bought a couple of months ago to replace our old, tired furniture.

We're hoping the cats will take to the new house readily. They certainly do to furniture. The very first night, Sebastian claimed a chair.

"Mine," said Sebastian.

It didn't stop there. )
vilakins: (nervous)
Moving day is just over a week away. We're still doing the last tidying up to the house (touches of paint where needed) so it's still a bit of a mess with ladders and stuff in the kitchen and bathrooms. Sigh. It's been going on for months. The stress is wearing me down and I can't wait to get out of here even though I've loved this house. OK, there's more to do in the new-to-us place but there won't be a deadline.

First the cats are being picked up by JetPets who will board them at their cattery till they can fly down.The moving truck with all our stuff will take 4-5 days to get to Oamaru, and we'll take 3. We're driving down in Greg's car with three overnights including the cabin we've booked on the night ferry. We'll stay in the Bookbinder's Retreat right next door while we wait for our stuff then unpack it. And after that, the cats will be flown to Dunedin where we'll pick them up.

I'm half nervous about it all and half really excited. Oamaru is such a cool place, and we already have eager visitors lined up to come and see us, including fellow dam and heavy-engineering enthusiasts we can take around the area. The first guests will be my sister and brother in law who will drive my car down in July and fly back.

But there's so much to do in the next week.
vilakins: (ashley art)
We're not sure when Ashley's birthday is, but we celebrate it on 1 May. She's the oldest of the three by a couple of months, though she seems the youngest, being so small (3kg), soft, playful, and kittenish.

Ashley standing on her tail on a windowsill. She's the only cat I've known who does that. She wraps her tail around herself and deliberately places first one front paw, then the other. I love the stripes between each toe.

Four more Ashley pics )
vilakins: (win)
I got a banner for completing [community profile] trope_bingo!

Powered by
vilakins: (sherlock and john)
And here's my intoabar story, which means I've met all my deadlines and can relax and do other things like posting Ashley photos because it was her birthday this week.

Title: The Case of the Time-Travelling Rebels
Prompt: Vila Restal goes into a bar and meets... Sally Donovan!
Fandoms: Blake's 7 / Sherlock (TV)
Word count: 1,799
Rating/Contents: G-rated. No warnings needed.

The Case of the Time-Travelling Rebels
vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)
My final [community profile] trope_bingo story. I had planned to write a rather angsty one that's been in my head for a while, but it was going to take too long . So here's a shorter, lighter one that was all written today because I've been offline for two days due to painters being in and everything being piled in the middle of each room making it hard to find anything, let alone my computer. Man, I hate this whole process of getting the house ready to sell. The disruption's being going on for months.
Title: (S)elective Memory Loss
Fandoms: Blake's 7
Trope: amnesia
Characters: Vila Restal, Soolin, Kerr Avon
Length: 1,410 words
Summary: Vila wants to forget and will pay to do so.

(S)elective Memory Loss

vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)
 [community profile] trope_bingo story number four. Just one to go now!
Title: Beginning Again
Fandoms: Blake's 7
Trope: trust and vows
Characters: Vila Restal, Kerr Avon, Roj Blake, Del Tarrant, Soolin, Dayna Mellanby, Deva
Length: 1,436 words
Summary: When the crew hear that Blake is alive, they change their plans.

Beginning Again

This is a sequel to Taking Charge.

vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)
[community profile] trope_bingo story number three. I might actually get all five written at this rate!
Title: Taking Charge
Fandoms: Blake's 7
Trope: role reversal
Characters: Vila Restal, Kerr Avon, Soolin, Dayna Mellanby, Del Tarrant
Length: 1,120 words
Summary: Vila decides that enough is enough and takes over.

Taking Charge
There's going to be a sequel to this using another trope because more Blake is always a good thing.
vilakins: (blake)
A second[community profile] trope_bingo story. Not the one I had planned, but I wanted to write something especially for Blake, and of all tropes, I got an idea for this one.
Title: Other Customs
Fandoms: Blake's 7
Trope: marriage
Characters: Roj Blake, Kerr Avon
Length: 1,385 words
Summary: Blake and Avon run afoul of local customs.

Other Customs

January 2017

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