Random Musings #65 -Where to start?!

At the beginning is a good place to start I suppose?  Yes?  Righto.  How far back do I need to go *double checks last blog*  Yike.  Okidoki then…

P1020158Concreters were delayed for a few weeks, but it all finally got done in the late part of October/early November.  Big digger in the yard, lots of lads (and one girl!) with wheelbarrows of cement – which was two big mix trucks worth – and some judicious warnings to Gandalf to not either get in their way or step in the wet concrete.   A nice bunch of people, but their site foreman could do with some lessons in communication and dealing with women who want answers regarding their homes.
Drainlayers came midway through to repair the pipes, ended up being a two day effort, also requiring a digger, as the ground here is all sand.  Yup, the poor buggers dug the hole, and it would collapse in on itself before they could get any work done.   Also lovely people, who proved chivalry isn’t dead by hauling our groceries to the back door for us so we could negotiate a 20 cm wide trench-edge path to get to the house ourselves!
Result = New paths, driveway and parking zone and about 21 metres of new sewer line connecting us properly to the mains.  The loo’s never flushed better!

With those delays happening, the solar panel people got put off…and put off…and put off – although one of those was due to weather.  Can’t remember which one, but weather was in there.  Finally got the panels on the roof of the garage in mid-November, and we’ve been pushing out the kilowatts ever since.  Only negative to it is that they didn’t explain how to read the meter and we can’t actually store anything we generate, so we’re selling most of it back to the grid.  *snorts*  We pay considerably more to use the grid than they give us for what we supply them with, naturally.  But it has meant we have been able to run the aircon on the recent hot days.  We had 36.1C yesterday for example.  And it was a lovely 20C inside, thankfully!

Still hunting work.  Saying no more.

summersolsticeIt’s the Summer Solstice/Litha here today, not that you’d know it was summer, what with the cloud, rain and fresh breeze.  But longest day it is, and I’m going to celebrate it in a little while, for the first time in a number of years.  And I’m doing so in a manner I am used to, rather than following Mr U’s script/plans.  Don’t get me wrong, I quite like what he does on occasion, but there’s a limit to how much thee/thou and declaiming of names in either Welsh/Gaelic/Elvish/choose a language neither of us actually knows before I get a twitch happening.
I’m more a seat of the pants kind of witch, a make it up as it occurs to me kind.  A ‘here’s the basics, but I’m going to wildly deviate, I can guarantee it’.  One who works in plain English and in a simplistic style.
Which is why I’m sitting here, blogging.  It’s been so long that I feel a little nervous.  I have no idea why, but I suppose it’s because I’ve felt like I’ve been giving my celebrations lip-service only for awhile.  It’s given me time to assess things, and deal with some personal stuff, but the last few days I’ve felt the pull to celebrate again.  So I will.  Regardless of lack of sunshine (irony, thy name is nature).  Amongst the nervousness is excitement – I’m looking forward to it.  And I’ve missed it.

So, time to log off and get hustling.  To all my readers I offer this solstice blessing:

May your holy days be happy, spent with those you care about and love. May whatever celebration you have be merry and may the coming year be prosperous, healthy and good to you!


Random Musings #64 – Tradies, Tradies Everyday!

It’s going to be a busy few weeks here.  Today sees the double glaziers here, installing a house-lot of new windows.  It’s been all go since 0900hrs, and the weather has gone well in their favour.  Not that I did any kind of witchy weather prodding or anything….  *fails to look innocent, epic-ally*  I’m sure it will now snow here this coming weekend in response.  Oh well, that should delight Mr U no end, and thoroughly user-test the new windows.  Two birds, one stone moment.

The only major problem thus far has been uncertainty as to when I can zip off to the loo though.  The guys have been systematically working their way around the house, and have been systematically popping in and out to add latches etc to the windows.  And, as all good folks do when they have tradesmen around for a full day of work, they too have access to the loo.
So it’s been an exercise in timing, as well as in breaking a habit.  What habit?  “Home is where you can leave the loo door open!”  Erm…no. Not today.  I’m pretty sure these two nice guys don’t need to be struck blind by my behind.

In about 10 days time we see the advent of the concreters and drainlayers – 18 months after the original assessment of works was done.  Not a bad timeframe in the scheme of earthquake repairs I suppose.  Maybe they finally got the hint that paying $800+ each time we needed to get the drains cleared would be ended by the repairs actually being done?  That’s going to be a week or so of burly blokes haring about with diggers, barrows and concrete mixers, and the poor fellows who have to dig about in the morass that is undoubtedly the ground under the driveway to repair the drains.  I don’t envy them at all.

Then, it’s the solar power panel people.

Yes, we’re going bonkers with tradesmen!

Paper and Glue # 1


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Ok, it’s official.  I’m going to add my papercrafting blog entries here too.  I bounced the idea about of keeping them on a separate blog in case I ever get onto a design team or whatever (yeah, right!) so that possible offense to readers can be avoided by them never seeing the fact I’m pagan and that I blog on the subject occasionally.  Or that my opinions are freely voiced on my blog (isn’t that what a blog’s supposed to be for anyway?) and I don’t tend to hold much sacred.  Literally.  *Cheeky grin*
Ultimately though, I decided to keep the paper crafting stuff here too, because like my description blurb says, it’s about my life, my beliefs and so on.  My life includes prosaic stuff like making cards and scrapbook pages, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s just one more pointer towards that pagans/witches ARE the people next door/the people in your craft class etc.

I also decided that I would work in metric measurements (millimetres and centimetres), because that’s what we use here in New Zealand.  It’s going to mean having a fast link to a measurement converter program, I’m sure, but the whole inches thing boggles my mind – which spends enough of it’s time boggled, thank you very much!
So, here we have Paper and Glue #1: Owl themed anniversary card.

Owl Anniversary Card  (front)

Owl Anniversary Card (front)

Designer Paper: Kaisercraft Chapter One Collection; Flourish (P667) from my stash.  You should only need one 300x300mm sheet of your chosen paper.
Owls: Core’Dinations sampler pack from a magazine, dark brown and a glittery sandy colour.
Dies: Tattered Lace Owls Toppers die set; TLACD030 ( www.topdogdies.com )
Rub On Sentiment: Kaisercraft; Forever
Alphas: Typeface stickers from stash
Puffy Hearts + Rhinestone: from stash

Start off with a piece of cardstock 350mm x 165mm.  Score at 125mm and 250mm. This should leave you with a 100mm section on the other end.  Fold and crease, putting the shorter side to the inside.  This forms your card blank.

Cut the designer paper for your background:
3 pieces; 110mmx150mm (or smaller/larger if you prefer, I left quite a wide border on mine with these measurements)
1 piece: 85mmx150mm (or smaller/larger if you prefer, I left quite a wide border on mine with these measurements)*
1 length of the trimmed decorative bottom strip of the paper, 150mm long*
* = You could cut 2 pieces of 85mmx150mm and omit the strip if you prefer.  I tend to scrawl hugely, so wanted a good amount of blank paper space to use.

Die cut the owls:
Once from the darker brown and once from the glittery sand coloured Core’Dinations. Using a glue pen (or a very steady hand with a bamboo skewer and craft glue!) adhere the lighter shade to the darker, off setting very slightly to create a shadowed effect.
Add googly eyes to the owls and ensure the cat isn’t wearing one on his rear as he leaves his supervisory position.

Create the sentiment labels/tags using plain scrap card and some of the scraps from the Flourish paper as a background. Trim to desired size/shape.

Assemble the card:
Adhere 2 pieces of the 110×150 on both sides of the front panel, the final piece goes on the centre panel.
The 85×150 goes on the outward facing panel of the smaller section (the optional second piece would go on the other side of same if you were doing it that way) and the strip goes along the outside border edge on the inward facing panel of the smaller section.

Inside of card, smaller panel closed (2nd owl)

Inside of card, smaller panel closed (2nd owl)

Card Heart

Middle of card, fully opened, showing the rub on sentiment – the quote from our wedding stationery. Puffy hearts and rhinestone on right side, which is the back panel of the larger front flap (owl 1)

Position the owls using foam dots or 3D glue on the front panel and the smaller inside panel.
Position and adhere sentiment tags.  Make sure the cat is again well clear of anything that might stick to him.
Centre the rub on inside the card and apply.  Add a little bling where it suits you.
Add your own words/thoughts etc on the blank panel.
Voila!  The photos don’t show the greens of the Flourish paper terribly well, but take my word for it, the colour is lovely, and the vegetation prints on it inspired the idea of having the owls perched on it.

Oh, and random cat mentions?  Gandalf likes to supervise.  This leads to moments of inky paws, fur in the double sided tape and googly eyes on furry bums.  But it’s all part of the fun!

More Papercrafting!


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It’s been ages since I blogged, and I have no excuse beyond “I haven’t felt like it”.  So, in order to brighten the page a little, I’ve gathered photos of some recent paper crafting I’ve been working on to share.  I’m currently in the process of creating our wedding photos album, and it’s taking shape nicely.  I’m finding my style is somewhat simplistic, sparse even, and that I’m not a huge fan of overly-embellished work.  For me, if it’s a scrapping page, the photo needs to be the star, not the miles of embellies or techniques of ink-playing etc.
I find that I’m still not completely confident in how my layouts look, so I find myself asking Mr U for his opinion.  Which he offers by saying it looks great…I wonder if he’s doing the wise husband thing?!

Speaking of Mr U and scrapping, he’s also caught the bug. So it’s an almost regular trip to The Paper Teapot for supplies now.  His style is more of the hyper-techniqued and embellished, so he wisely doesn’t ask my opinion on his work.  :)  (Definitely doing the wise husband thing!)

Anyway, here’s the pictures, I hope you enjoy them.

Yes, Gandalf has his own album! The Book of Gandalf

Yes, Gandalf has his own album!
The Book of Gandalf


Gandalf 1

Gandalf 4

Birthday Card for a dear friend - Front view

Birthday Card for a dear friend – Front view

Inside the card

Inside the card

An easel fold Valetine's Card, for Mr U.  This was my first attempt at this style and I used the Brother Scan n Cut machine for the fancy heart, liner and tag.

An easel fold Valetine’s Card, for Mr U. This was my first attempt at this style and I used the Brother Scan n Cut machine for the fancy heart, liner and tag.

Birthday card for Mum.  I used the Crafter's Companion Ultimate Pro board for the card base and the medallions. The peacock feather paper is a spare piece  of Mr U's, that he hand coloured for one of his projects.   The soft lilac paper came from a freebie stack that came with a papercrafting mag.

Birthday card for Mum. I used the Crafter’s Companion Ultimate Pro board for the card base and the medallions.
The peacock feather paper is a spare piece of Mr U’s, that he hand coloured for one of his projects.
The soft lilac paper came from a freebie stack that came with a papercrafting mag.

The inside of Mum's card.  Again, Ultimate Pro boards used for the medallion.  Paper from the freebie stack.  Heart and ribbon from my stash.

The inside of Mum’s card. Again, Ultimate Pro boards used for the medallion. Paper from the freebie stack. Heart and ribbon from my stash.

Misadventures in Middle Earth #1


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Yes, yes, I know, I do the numbering thing to death here, but come on, it’s a gimmick and it works – you’re reading aren’t you?  :)

We’re settled in nicely here in Christchurch now, to the point that the more ridiculous accidents that are befalling Mr U especially seem comical once the initial “OMG are you OK?!” has faded.  Allow me to illustrate:

"Watch out for that.... oh nevermind."

“Watch out for that…. oh nevermind.”

1) Mr U, playing chase with Gandalf (the cat, not the wizard! [but we do suspect said cat might be a Time Lord]), runs slap bang into a tree branch.  Which knocks him out, breaks his glasses and leaves him with an impressive graze over an eye and his brow.  He comes too after a few seconds of enforced snooze to find the cat alternating between leaping on his chest (“Breathe, damn you, BREATHE!”) and nibbling on his fingers (“It’s true!  They do taste like chicken!”). Mr U gallumphs indoors, gets an official “how many fingers, let me see your eye please” check and spends the next week or so enjoying sharing the tale (tail?) with the residents and staff at the facility he works at.

2) Mr U, this time helping load/unload the dishwasher (cat/suspected Time Lord nowhere in sight), rises up and beans himself on the range-hood/extractor unit above the stove.  On the other side of his forehead to the donk mentioned in number 1.  Nice goose-egg forms, no apparent damage other than to his pride and his sense of humour.

3) Mr U, having planted shrubs and strawberry plants in the yard (with feline assistance – Gandalf pulled OUT the strawberry plants – they were in his spot.  Ok, not a Time Lord but Sheldon Cooper in a furry suit. Or OCD animagus with a rather effective time turner?).  He is clearing up and closing the garage door when he manages to pull it down onto the back of his head.  Again, no damage other than to his pride and sense of humour.

All I can draw from these events is:

a) we have a cat who is either Sheldon Cooper, Time Lord or an OCD animagus with a really good time turner.  This will bear further investigation and study.

b) Mr U needs to stop leading with his head. Eventually, after enough knocks, he might manage this?

c) Is Someone-On-High (or Low) trying to give Mr U a message that he’s just not getting?!

Whichever it is, it’s making for fun times here with Misadventures in Middle Earth!  Stay tuned for more as our Journey Goes Ever On!

Random Musings #63 – A quick check in and some knights

Mea Culpa, it’s been over two months since my last blog entry…Pfft.  I blog when I feel like it, and today is one of those days.  :)  

I’ve been rather caught up in life of late, what with Gandalf, card making/scrapbooking (which Mr U has now taken up as well; it’s like an episode of Incredible Banzuki when we get going with only one glue runner, ruler, pencil etc between us!  I’ve also been catching up with friends, and reconnecting with my home-earth; going to job interviews (3 in one week even!) and just living.

Imbolc came and went last week, we had a ‘super moon’ yesterday, Margot Adler has passed away and I just heard Robin Williams has passed also.  I’m sure others have lost friends and family, and I send you my condolences also.  

All in all, life’s OK, and has room to get better than OK.  It’ll happen.  :)

I came across this meme in my travels today, and I think it sums growing up beautifully.  With a couple of knights to make us chuckle, I’ll love and leave you until next time. 

Adults Stop

Random Musings # 62 – It’s on the Cards


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Some days I hurry to the other side of the city to answer a phone, others I sit on a chair and play with glue and paper…

It’s been nearly 2 years or more since I blogged about receiving scrapbooking/cardmaking supplies as Yule/Birthday gifts from Mr U, and the last week or so has seen me finally start using them again.  Granted, I did do a few weeks of scrapbooking within the first 6 months post-buying, but I was holding off on finishing aspects of the pages because I was hoping to be able to computer-print the journalling aspects – especially since my handwriting looks like a drunken chicken with arthritis was scratching the paper.
However, things then got neatly packed away for use “when the muse hits me” – which in my case can at times be infrequent to tri-annually to never.  This latest muse seems to be on the bi-annual train, so maybe I can actually stick at it for that length of time too?!

Anyhoot, I have spent a few days test driving my card-making skills.  And if I’m horribly conceited, some of the work is actually rather good!  Here’s the irony though – they were the first cards I created.  The ones that followed had a kind of ‘beginner having a try’ feel/look to them in my opinion. But, we can be our own harshest critics at times, and so what if they look beginner; it’s what I am!

My first attempt was a Mother’s Day card:

Mothers Day 2014

I freely admit to having Mr U, man of art and crafting help me choosing the colour combo of this one.  I didn’t trust my own innate sense of what looked OK.   Once I got the bulk of the cutting and sticking done however, I managed to select embellishments under my own steam.  :)

Then followed a set of Christmas cards, using Dawn Lewis‘ handy template for making 8 cards from 1 patterned piece and one plain piece of paper.  I fubared some of them, but the rest…well, I’ll show you:

Cards 2Cards 1

Then came these ones the following day, after I tinkered about with Mum’s new cutting gadget, the Brother Scan N Cut (she got it for her quilting cutting, but since it also can be used for paper, I had a try):

Cards 3

And on the third day:

Cards 4

Last night saw me having another tinker with the Scan N Cut, and I have the makings of about 6-7 more cards. Or possibly additions to the scrapbooking project.  I think I have the bug – now all I need to do is coordinate my hobby with my new role as a volunteer receptionist at the local charity hospital, housekeeper/cook/laundress for my family and general laze-about clown…



Random Musings #61 – And then there was a house…


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Over-sizeHow to know that you’re living next to witches – a house appears overnight in a vacant section.  Well, almost a house, as the other half is likely to arrive over the coming days.  Yes, we went to bed last night with only a concrete foundation as a clue that there was going to be some kind of rebuild action going on and by 0430hrs this morning, there was half a large house being unloaded onto said foundations.  How I slept through all the prep and about 6 large floodlights beats me, but clearly I needed the sleep more than watching it all happen.

As I contemplated this event about an hour after Mr U pointed it out to me (yes, I truly was oblivious even as I sat in the dining room which is the room nearest the property!), I thought about a personal bugbear of mine regarding the earthquake damage and the incredibly drawn out process that’s going on here in Christchurch to not only rebuild the city proper, but to get people back into homes/repair homes that are damaged etc.
Three years post-quakes and there’s people still living in caravans, motels, with friends and family, anywhere they can find; and many of them are also still paying mortgages on properties they’re not able to live in/on. As well as paying for their current living situation.  It truly boggles my mind.  As a result, there’s a definite rental property problem in that rents are astronomically high and rental places are scarcer than chickens dentition.  Added to that, there’s lots of workers in the area trying to help rebuild who also need roofs over heads.  Don’t get me started on the hassles that are to be had with insurance providers and government agencies that are now representing at least one gone-bust insurer.  And now, the local City Council have discovered that they’re around $500million short for the necessary things.
I’m not fully au fait with the situation that arose with the then City Council immediately after the ‘quakes, other than to have heard that they under-insured a number of key infrastructure items (eg: sewerage treatment plant oxidation ponds).  That council was rapidly and rabidly removed at the following local body elections, and the new council are doing their best to fix the mess.  I don’t envy them.   I also don’t envy the people who are dealing with the incredibly frustrating and anger-inducing bureaucracy that is in place that is keeping them from having their own roof, floors, walls etc around them.   And every few days there’s advertising in the newspapers convincing the readers that despite everything that’s happened over these 3 years, everyone’s doing alright, yes?

Worf facepalm

No, they’re not.

Just last night on the national news, we heard of an initiative that has only just been created to move safe to inhabit homes from the red zone (totally no-go area for future building etc) to areas to create low-cost first-home style housing.  Great idea, why has it taken 3 years to get off the blasted ground?!
Which brings me back to the half house next door… the original home there was totally munted (a word that pretty much translates best from Kiwi slang to ‘completely screwed’).  It took 3 years to get the demolition approval, foundation approval and then house moving approval.  But, the owner of the property will have a home that he can return to and call his own in a matter of a few weeks now.  But it took 3 years for someone to rubberstamp a couple of bits of paper.  That’s criminal.  It reminds me of the stories you hear about areas of New Orleans that are still derelict post-Katrina.  That’s criminal too, for the record.
Across the road, another neighbour’s home is being rebuilt from the ground up.  He’s been lucky enough to secure the house directly in front of ours as a rental, so he gets to photograph and watch each stage as it happens.  And yes, getting the permits to rebuild from scratch took 3 years too.  It’s fun to see the new homes coming in (there’s also one awaiting final placement a few houses down the road – it too came in on a truck early in the morning), and to see the progress made on building across the street, but for people who’ve been paying rent for 3 years and waiting endlessly whilst bureaucracy spins its wheels and stores nuts it might well be like winning the lottery. A step into a future where they can say “I’m off home” and actually know it’s theirs.

????????????Whilst I’m having a bit of a rant about things, I wanted to add my few cents regarding the continual and circular debate that continues to rage about whether to demolish or reconstruct as it was the formerly iconic Christ Church Cathedral that also fell in the ‘quakes.  It’s now a ruin that has pigeons roosting in it.  It’s surrounded by barriers and warning signs.  It’s a jagged testament to a past that whilst shouldn’t be forgotten, must be moved on from.
The Anglican Church seems to be firmly on the side of demolition and rebuilding something that is forward-looking, anticipating the future.  Heritage buffs and associated authorities are determined to fight to have this shattered, pigeon-shit filled ruin re-animated like some grotesque architectural Frankenstein’s monster.
As a pagan, I never imagined I would side with a Church organisation in a decision… Yes, demolish the original building, build a new Cathedral and utilise some of the stone from the past to build the future. Incorporate some of the stones, some of the interior stuff perhaps, definitely the bells, but for love of the Christian God, create an edifice that indeed says despite the events of the last few years, Canterbury is indeed, doing all right.

Those who cannot look beyond history and the past are doomed to repeat the failings and fears therein.  Look forward and prove that strength is not simply a ‘heritage’ facade saved and tacked onto a modern building, but that it is rather creating a new heritage and future city that it’s residents and businesses are again proud to call ‘home’.

Random Musings #60 – Misplaced my Wand?


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Happy Samhain to all my readers in the Southern Hemisphere, a Happy Beltane to those in the Northern!
I can hear you frowning and saying I’m bonkers wishing you this so late after the fact, but there is method to the madness.  Mr U and I work astrologically.  It’s something we started doing the first year after our wedding, as having gotten married on April 30th and celebrating both anniversary and Samhain felt like a clash somewhat.  So, we test-drove celebrating astrologically, and found that it worked rather well for us.  A help in doing the calculations is this handy webpage; Archeoastronomy.  Using the almanac section of the site, we can get a jump on the dates we need for some time into the future.  This also allows us to perhaps even plan leave days from work if we want it. So, we officially celebrate Samhain tomorrow, May 5th.  But whichever system you have, I hope it was/is a blessed time and you enjoy your time in celebration.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of late – the product of my mind being jump-started in a training week for 2 mornings a week of volunteer reception work at the local charity hospital.  The problem with thinking is that it leads to wondering and from there to forming an opinion.  And let’s be honest, I don’t have a problem expressing those!
I came across this picture on a friend’s Facebook page:

Misplaced my WandAnd yes, this set me thinking…and wondering…and oh yes, an opinion was formed…
I like to think I don’t need to have my wand to hand to help.  Nor crystals, herbs, threads, ribbons, incense or holy water. I like to think I don’t even need to do more than blink to move from ‘I’m loading the dishwasher’ to ‘let’s get this greebly the hell out of my friend’s house’.  Zero to witch in 0.2 seconds and all that.
But then I continued following that thought-zebra along the path… yes, I can help, but should I? Am I going to be interfering in a necessary learning/life experience by helping?  Is my helping my learning/life experience moment? By helping am I possibly making things worse?  And in all honesty, the old tired question of ‘what’s in it for me?’ Yes, I’m guilty of that thought on occasion.  I can’t excuse it, and if I’m true to myself, I won’t.  There are situations and people that give me reason to take that thought seriously when they ask/crop up.  I’m human enough to recognise my reaction and as soon as I think the thought, I opt out of helping.  Anything that has a ‘but’ attached to it isn’t being done without an agenda.

I’m getting the request for dinner from the family, so it’s blog-end for tonight.

Blessings of the season to you and yours, may your celebrations be wonderful and the coming weeks be kind to you!