All I want for Christmas…

Hmm… It is tricky to write a blog when the Internet is down. Not the whole Internet  (obviously), just our provider. So I have to resort to using the data plan on my smartphone. And pecking out a paragraph very slowly.

Truthfully I just collapsed asleep on the couch, in all my work clothes, after the third big event in a row. I woke up a 6am to the kitties batting my face, and teeth that feel like they’re melting. Whoops.

And now I have to drag myself up and go back to work again. Because conferences. 

Can’t I just stay home and play in my garden? Pretty please? It’s nearly Christmas and all I want is more sleep and some time to do weeding. 

And to have the Internet back again. That would be helpful.



When your shifts are so long that it feels like you live at work, you come home to some strange surprises sometimes.

Like the whole ham on the bone that is currently in our refrigerator. I’m guessing that this is some kind of Christmas gift from my husband’s workplace, which is nice and extraordinarily generous. He was sound asleep when I got home, and will be back at work before I get up in the morning, so I can’t ask him. I like ham, but we are also just two adults and a small selection of cats, so being confronted with 20 lbs of salted meat is somewhat more than we can handle. I’m thinking that we might donate it to a charity that could actually make use of it.

The other fun surprise was a letter from the Inland Revenue Department saying that (since I haven’t filed my tax return) they’ve decided that I owe them $3329.89. I haven’t filed a tax return because when you work for a salary in New Zealand you don’t need to file a tax return. I didn’t file a return last year either, but I did file one the year before because I was self-employed. Exactly how the IRD have determined that I owe them $3329.89 is unclear… Well, actually no, it’s perfectly clear because it’s happened before. They decide that since I used to be self-employed, I must still be self-employed, and then they invent some imaginary income for me and tax me on it. And then I have a bunch of 1-hour phone calls ahead of me where I have to explain to bored clerical staff that I didn’t actually earn any of this imaginary income and I don’t owe them anything. And then they fine me for not filing a tax return anyway. Just because.

Perhaps the most galling part of this is that when I log into their website it almost always says that my income tax is in credit, since they owe me a refund from 2004 but refuse to pay it to me because it’s more than 10 years old and they reckon they sent me a letter in 2004. They apparently sent the letter to a house I hadn’t lived in since 2002, but that’s by the by. I still don’t understand the logic of how you can’t get money that the tax department owe you because it’s “too old” and yet the tax department can arbitrarily decide that you owe them money based on no evidence at all.

But all of this will have to wait until Monday or Tuesday before I can deal with it, because I have events on and work always takes priority. Hopefully tomorrow brings no more surprises.


Back to this long crawl of major events. Back to back-to-back-to-back 13-hour days and high-strung clients. Back to a fatigue so deep you can feel your bones ache.

A vacation would be nice. Sipping cocktails in the summer sun. Going for a swim. Sleeping… oh sleep,how I miss you.

I suppose this is the way of most struggling, working, middle-class people everywhere. You work very hard and dream about the day (that far off day) when you’ll have enough money saved up that you can take a break and have a short trip to somewhere warm. That can take several years to achieve. And then after a week of that, it’s back to interminable work and daydreaming.

One day there will be a holiday… One day.



Ties that Bind

So the interview wasn’t all that awesome. Sometimes, you can just tell.

I’m trying to stay upbeat, but I also have three big events over the next three days and I’m frankly a bit bummed. I wish there was a way out, or at least a way to get some time off. I have 200 hours of leave owing to me, and a full summer calendar ahead.

One of the things that is playing most on my mind is that I only have a limited window in which to find a new position. If our house building proceeds on schedule, we will need to draw down our new mortgage in late April. In order to be approved for that (it’s part of their conditions) both my husband and I will need to be outside of any 90-day trial period in our jobs. So if I’m starting a new job, I must start it by late January. I also have a 4-week notice period at my current job.

In other words, if I can’t find a new job in the next two weeks, I may as well give up and hang on until after April.

I don’t want to hang on until April. I’m sick and tired of going to work sick and tired. But sometimes there is no choice.




I knew it was coming, but it’s still wonderful to see the first flush of red on the drive up to the section. The pohutukawa trees are starting to bloom. It’s not enough to photograph yet, but in another week it will be a brilliant Christmas display all along the winding country roads. There are some benefits to spending summer in Auckland after all.

My husband has actually been doing the lion’s share of the outdoor work this week – mowing the long grass at the section, which has taken several days. I joined him for a bit so that we could move the water tank and get it ready to fill with water, but this proved to be a much more difficult task than anticipated. Although the giant plastic tank is light enough that it could be pushed off the delivery truck by just myself and the truck driver, it has settled into the ground in the intervening months, and stubbornly refused to budge. In the end, moving it required the gentle assistance of my car. We got it done though.

Once again, I’m spending my quiet hours working on my application for that job – or rather studying the position description so that I can cover all of the major points in the interview. I so want to get this role, it may be a disappointing Christmas if it doesn’t come about.

I’ll keep you posted. Of course.


Silver Lining

The bad news is that Tuesday turned out to be far too hot to spend much time in the garden, so I just napped instead. Is that bad news? I’m actually not so sure.

The good news is that I have an interview for the job I spent extra time and effort applying for last week! Yaaaayyyyy!!! *flailing Kermit arms*



It’s not a new job yet, but an interview is a really good start. I absolutely hate applying for jobs, so the less applications I have to do, the better.

To celebrate, my husband and I decided to make use of the good weather in a positive way and go down to the beach to eat fish and chips and drink cider and watch the sunset. This sounds lovely (and looked lovely, above) if not for the howling southwesterly that made us both freeze and made the chips go cold. However a neighborhood cat choose to join us and loll around cutely to see if she could steal a chip or two, and she didn’t seem to mind that they were cold, so there’s that. Obviously cats can tell that we’re cat people.



So I’m a little late posting this. After six very long days at work (the last three of them fighting a horrible gastro-bug) I came home last night and just collapsed. I slept for roughly 12 hours, minus the bit at around 4:30am when the kitties decided to dance on my face because they were bored. I really needed that sleep though – I have woken up feeling much better and actually hungry for the first time in a couple of days.

The bouts of rain over the last few days have also left my garden with the explosion of growth (and explosion of weeds) I’ve already described. Just a couple weeks after I weeded all of the large beds, it’s in need of another attack. So of course, today, the sun is shining and it’s once again oppressively hot.

I think I’ll start with the shade garden around the back.

The new growth has heartened me though. Especially when I saw the hydrangea in the photograph above. This is my favorite hydrangea – Sabrina. It’s also the result of what happens when my husband gets a little overzealous with the line trimmer. But it’s clearly bouncing back… Provided that he doesn’t go mad with mowing again.

Perhaps I’ll have to find another way to keep him occupied…


The Long March

It’s been a slow climb into the last event of this looong week. On top of everything, I’ve been feeling sick as a dog – feverish, nauseous, achy. It’s all just reinforcing my desire to find a new job with more reasonable hours and some flexibility to take time off when sick.

However, I did find time to repot my seedlings (so that I have a few more days to get the beds prepared for them). My husband thinks I’m crazy – working outside on the garden in the middle of the night, in a freezing rainstorm, while running a fever. But the work needed doing and summer waits for no one.

My last event this week is a doozy – a big wedding with a demanding and unreasonable young bride. I’m a firm believer that the whole wedding industry (eg. Pinterest, bridal magazines, “It’s all about you!”) has a lot to answer for. You do your best to offer professional advice to people who have never organized an event before in their lives, but if they choose not to listen to you then it’s hard to convince them that they won’t get the result they want from the path they’ve chosen. And of course, that will be your fault.



Snail Holocaust 2

When I got home from work (in the middle of the damn night) it was surprisingly crunchy underfoot. As I walked from the driveway I set off the security light, and it revealed the reason for the new sound effects.

The rain has awakened the snails. Hundreds of snails migrating from one part of the garden to another. Doing their devious work. Munching my mizuna. Destroying my dahlias. Liquidating the lily of the valley.

Ladies and gentlemen… a tapdance.


The Cobwebs Say Everything

It’s still raining on and off, but it’s moved into that muggy, hot, tropical rain that doesn’t actually seem to cool anything down. The difference between November and December couldn’t be more striking- it’s like we moved from winter to summer in a week.

One of my biggest frustrations now is that this has made everything grow like mad. To the point where lots of things are out-growing their allocated space. And I need to fix that. I need to plant out my seedlings, and prune back a bunch of trees and shrubs, and repot tons of things. When I get time… I’m working 6 days this week, and every shift is around 12 hours…

By the time I get back to my gardening (Tuesday? If I’m not asleep and if it’s not cripplingly hot?) I’m a bit worried that some things will be beyond help. It also doesn’t help that I have blithely spent winter giving myself two gardens to take care of.

This wasn’t the intention. If the mortgage had held together, we would have had our new house by now and already moved to the new section. Everything would be in one garden. But instead I have scattered myself and my responsibilities across the landscape.

And summer marches on.