Just me

Posts about me, my family and friends (yes I have some), Seymour the Wonder Cat and his not-so-trusty sidekick Norman the Newbie Cat and life in general, both online and offline

Upated: Home invaders (and men are idiots)

The discovery of some unexpected visitors in our home this week was a bit of a shock. After hearing a sort of dripping sound in the bathroom for a while now, I was wondering if either there was something leaking inside the wall (a potential nightmare after the sneaky ceiling leak we had in the same room earlier last year that took a couple of weeks to track down), or that we possibly had a family of wetas living the good life in our bathroom wall.

bug-bee (1)Just the other day I finally remembered to take a look out the window on the stairs, which faces the external wall of the bathroom on the side I’d been hearing the sounds, to see if I could see either something leaking or evidence of wetas in the neighbourhood. You know, like a weta welcome mat, or a weta-sized four-wheel-drive parked outside. But no, there was no sign of anything weta-related or leak-related. However, there was something else. Well, hundreds of something else: fecking bees wasps*. Yes, we have bees wasps living in our bathroom wall.

Ick. Totally ick.

I’m not pleased by this turn of events at all, in fact I’m more than a little creeped out by the fact that the noise I’m hearing in my bathroom is the sound of a gazillion little bees wasps shuffling around inside my wall.

What makes it worse is that it’s been so bloody hot this past week but I can’t open the windows on the back wall of the house for fear of being invaded by the winged beasts, since there are so many of them buzzing around the place: you really do appreciate the meaning of “a hive of activity” when you see the actual activity that goes on in an actual hive! Anyway, thank God for air conditioning.

On the day I made my discovery, I broke the news to Fluffy (aka my long-suffering but well-insured husband) that we had a wee problem living inside our walls. His immediate response? To wander around the back of the house, take a look at the entry point that was surrounded by bees and then poke a stick in it. Our unwelcome tenants weren’t impressed by that turn of events and came pouring out of their home sweet home to see off the intruder. I was surprised that the old bugger can still move pretty quickly when pursued by a bunch of pissed of insects.

But really, what is it with blokes? Why do they feel the need to do stupid things like that? Is it just a fixation with poking things in holes or is it something more?

Anyway, the bee assassin* has been hired and will be here on Tuesday to do the deed. I’m looking forward to having my house back.

Note 1: Did I say bees? Turns out they were wasps.

Note 2: Fortunately, the skills required of the average bee assassin are quite similar to those required of a wasp hitman. The dude hired to kill our winged house guests initially looked at them from the safety of the window on the stairs and while admitting that he normally wasn’t keen on killing bees, he said he understood our need to get rid of them since they were living in our wall and there were so damn many of them. However, after popping outside to have a closer look at their entry point, he discovered they were actually wasps. And because of that, he was actually quite excited about disposing of them. And I was excited for him. The wasps, however, weren’t particularly excited about the outcome.


Bye for now

I’m on holiday until the 19th so am off to Aussie for a week or so. Hopefully it’ll be a tad warmer than it is here right now!

And we’ll be back, of course, in time for the opening day of the whitebait season on the 15th.


I do … in debt


According to Quartz, the taste for ridiculously expensive weddings is nothing new, but I’m finding it hard to get my head around the average spend in 2013 of an eye-watering $29,548.

I get that brides want their big day, but holy crap that’s a lot of dosh. That’s a deposit on a house, or a decent start on one.

Or a honeymoon.

Or a new car.

Quartz, says that figure represents 49 per cent of the median household income, and while weddings back in the 1930s averaged 25 per cent of household income, it’s almost worse because that was in the middle of the Great Depression, when so many were out of work and the economy was pretty much fecked. Hmm, that sounds familiar…

But I digress. Am I some sort of freak of nature? I spent a fraction of that on my wedding and even now, 18 or so years down the track, have no regrets about our cheap day: the most important thing for me was that our parents were there, and they were. We hurried along our wedding date because my mother’s health had taken a turn for the worse so our wedding went from “we’ll probably get married in the next couple of years” to “we’re getting hitched on Saturday”. That decision was made on a Sunday afternoon, back in March 1996.

I hired a dress (couldn’t find one I liked, didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for something I’d never wear again), bought my shoes at the Warehouse (where every bride gets a bargain …), the real estate agent did my hair for me during our open home (we were trying to sell our house at the time, and we actually bought another house that same day), and soothed the nerves of my very, very nervous matron of honour with alcohol.

All up, I think our big day cost maybe a couple of hundred bucks.

It’s not what you spend that makes it work.


A night at the theatre, with chunks

Oh Jasmine, we’ve never officially met but I just wanted to say that I am glad we had the good sense to put some distance between you and us on Friday night. And I can’t help but wonder just how you are feeling today.

Who is Jasmine, you may ask? And indeed, that is a good question.

booze-warningWe went along to the 2 Degrees Comedy Convoy show (part of the NZ International Comedy Festival) on Friday night and after finding our way to our seats, we settled in for what we hoped would be a bit of a giggle. And then they arrived: a gaggle of already drunk, raucous, cackling, swearing young women who lined up in the five or six seats in the row behind us and proceeded spend the first half of the show kicking the backs of our seats and knocking over the booze they had apparently smuggled in (full sized bottles of wine). There was a river of cheap wine and beer trickling under our seats but the little coven behind us still somehow managed to get more drunk even though they were sharing so much of their booze with the floor.

But the show was good and the laughs were coming thick and fast. Unfortunately for us, Jasmine had the loudest, most obnoxious laugh ever heard. It didn’t really sound like a laugh … it was more of a Yeti mating call.

And that noise emanating from our dear Jasmine was so loud and invasive, it attracted the attention of Paul Ego, the poor bugger trying to perform on stage. To be fair, he took the piss out of her while managing to extract some information out of the gentle wee soul, which is how we all came to know that the woman behind the headache-inducing noise was a teacher named Jasmine, with a surname that sounded surprisingly like Hairy Target (something that gave Ego a tangent to explore … ).

Half-time arrived and I was wondering if I could handle another hour or so of Jasmine screeching in my ear. While I was pondering this, the girls all decided to pop out during the intermission. As they all left their seats and managed to hit every poor bugger in the row in front of them in the head with their arses and I’m pretty sure one of them farted on the way past. Do these people not know that leaving your seat isn’t a contact sport?

Anyhoo, I suspect a trip to the bar was the initial plan. However, by the time they returned I’m not sure if they made it that far.

Jasmine needed a bit of help to get back to her seat and looked a tad ill. I suspect she may have spent the intermission having a bit of a chuck.

Hubby and I both had the same idea: do we really want to sit here? This girl looks like she’s gonna blow (chunks) and we don’t want to be in the firing line. There were some empty seats a row in front of us and we thought about moving there but instead headed for the rows at the back of the theatre.

Ahhhh, the second half of the show kicked off and we were able to sit back and relax, and enjoy the comedy without the risk of bleeding eardrums from shrieky Jasmine.

The nice usher lady was sitting behind us, giggling away at the comedy offerings and enjoying herself.

Then I heard a noise. Ooh, I thought, that sounded a little like someone throwing up. Half a dozen rows in front of us, Jasmine and her friends up and left. In a hurry.

About a minute passed, and all of a sudden at least three rows of people stood up and did a runner. Yes indeedy, Jasmine has tossed her cookies.

Some of those people left the show completely, some noticed the other empty seats at the back of the theatre and sat there. The nice usher lady and the bloke who was on the door when we arrived then had to clean up the mess as the show went on.

It stunk, both literally and figuratively. Although, they managed to deal with the literal stink with a can of air freshener.

While Jasmine was a bit of a numpty for getting trollied and chucking up in a crowded theatre, her friends were worse: not one of them was a drunk as her, in fact one of them appeared quite sober, but instead of getting her out of there when it was obvious she was so green ’round the gills, they took her back to her seat and just tried to get her to drink some water.


Anyway, if you know Jasmine the teacher with a surname that sounds like Hairy Target, pass on my good wishes and gratitude that she waited to do her technicolor yawn until after we’d changed seats.

PS: The show was awesome! The acts were Paul Ego, Justine Smith, Markus Birdman, Carl Donnelly and Jarred Fell … all of whom were very, very funny. And not vomit-inducing at all.


It’s all over for another year


Phew, that’s Christmas all done and dusted for another year. Hope everyone had a fun day doing whatever it is you like to do to mark the festive season 2013.


Merry Christmas!



Cohen 2013: the same but better

Leonard Cohen plays guitar

A spot of fancy lighting cast dual silhouettes of Leonard Cohen playing guitar.

Three years ago, I was lucky enough to see Leonard Cohen live in concert in Christchurch so when I bought tickets for this bonus return visit, I was expecting it to be something of a carbon copy of that concert. And I was OK with that: the 2010 show was amazing and an experience I was more than ready to repeat.

However, the biggest bonus about last night’s show was that while it was every bit as brilliant as the earlier concert, it also had a few little extra treats.

As expected, the great man himself was every bit as energetic as in 2010, skipping on stage and dropping to his knees as he opened the show. And that opening itself was something of a surprise: no support act, no mucking around, just Leonard Cohen and his incredible band suddenly appearing on stage and getting straight into it. And as with 2010’s concert, he was on his knees singing, and back up with one fluid motion time and time again and seemed to have boundless energy. I suspect no one’s told him he’s 79 years old.

The show started a few minutes after 8pm and — with just a short 10-minute or so break in the middle — finished around 11.30pm: certainly good bang for your buck for the fans.

The first half finished up with my favourite Cohen song, Anthem. I suppose it’s safe to say that what makes the man such a great songwriter is that his words carry so much meaning.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in …

Let’s compare that, shall we, to the efforts of another Canadian “singer-songwriter”, one Justin Bieber: Baby, baby, baby oooh; Like baby, baby, baby nooo; Like baby, baby, baby oooh; I thought you’d always be mine (mine).

But I digress, back to the greatness.

The “little extra treats” I referred to above included adding a violinist to his already spectacular band, reminding us that he’s a pretty decent guitarist himself, having the Webb sisters take the spotlight for a solo,and  the inclusion of a few songs from his last album and the odd one or two we didn’t get at the last concert. However, many of the classics still made an appearance: Bird on a Wire, Hallelujah, Tower of Song, Chelsea Hotel #2 and  a rendition of A Thousand Kisses Deep that sent shivers up my spine. You could have heard a pin drop as every one of us seated in that arena was transfixed by his recitation.

The audience was spellbound by every song, fully engrossed in the words the master was sharing with us. And as with all great poetry — because that’s what his songs really are — I’m sure each and every one of us found our own message in the words, taking on board meanings that tied in to what is happening in our own lives at this very moment. A quite serious medical diagnosis last year highlighted my own mortality but also, in turn, prompted me to make positive change. One again it’s Anthem, reminding me that our flaws and frailities are there for a reason, that takes centre stage for me.

Did I hear every one of the Cohen songs I wanted to hear? Probably not, but for that to happen the concert would have lasted at least another 10 hours at least.

However, what we did hear was a perfect mix of old and newer songs, performed by a singer who simply continues to improve as the years go by: his voice seems to have become even deeper, if that’s possible, and the gravelly, aged tone that very occasionally broke through gave his words even more emotion.

The humility of the man is astounding: he received a standing ovation as he came on stage, and another three at the end of the show that prompted encores, but still he thanked the audience for coming out, for sticking around for the second half of the show and for just being fans.

And there was another one of those aforementioned little extra treat for fans during that final encore: we all thought, as he launched into Closing Time, that we were hearing the final song of the show. However, he snuck in one last number that kept everyone on their feet and surprised us all: Save the Last Dance for Me.

It was interesting that an old colleague (old as in a colleague from a few years ago, not as in someone particularly old) commented on Facebook as she awaited the start of the concert that the arena was rapidly filling up with aging hipsters and their adult offspring. While I’ll lay claim to the aging part of the equation, I’m not now nor have I ever been a hipster. Truth be told, I’m probably far from Leonard Cohen’s target audience: my “wild youth” was during the early to mid-1980s, when I was rocking my pink spiked hair, black lipstick and assorted chains while listening to the Clash and the Dead Kennedys. However, as I flew home today and sat on the plane with my iPod on shuffle, I figured I’m probably not the target audience for the likes of Tupac, Justin Timberlake or Babyshambles, either. And as that thought crossed my mind, my iPod shuffled on to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3, and it occurred to me that perhaps target audiences don’t really matter.

I wonder how many people back in the day realised that the spikey haired chick in the black lipstick was just as likely to be listening to Verdi’s Requiem as the Public Image on her Walkman.

Leonard Cohen performs Closing Time

Even being stuck behind the Man With The Giant Head (left), who spent much of the evening moving his head from side-to-side, didn’t put a dampener on my night.



Positive changes

I’m looking great, apparently. No, really: everyone keeps telling me how good I look at the moment.

It’s lovely to hear it, and I suppose I probably do look a tad healthier than I did a year ago. And even better, I’ve managed to control my normally inbuilt sarcasm and have refrained from responding to the compliments with “so I look great now? As opposed to normally looking like shit?”

Although, that’s probably because a year ago I did look like shit. I certainly felt like it!

The “you look great” comment is generally always followed by “how did you do it?” I think everyone expects some sort of earth-shattering answer along the lines of me discovering some until-now-unheard-of herb or magic potion, so they always look a bit shocked when I offer up the whole “heart failure” response.

Anyway, it is lovely to be complimented but also a wee bit embarrassing. And I think the next time someone says I look great and asks how I did it, I’ll tell them I’ve started the new alcohol diet: it’s fuckin’ great … I’ve lost 3 days in the first week!


tap-tap-tap … Is this thing on?

updateI’ve been a bad, bad blogger, not posting here for months. I apologise for abandoning you (not that it’s likely anyone’s noticed) but – for a few months at least – life got in the way.

It’s been an interesting old time, with my dodgy heart actually behaving like a not-so-dodgy heart and now it’s looking more likely that I won’t need the heart surgery that had been hanging over my head since last month. I had another ECG and ultrasound done last weekend and the technician said everything looked pretty good so it will be interesting to see what my cardiologist has to say at my next appointment.

Strangely, now that I’m not working stupidly long hours I seem to constantly run out of time to blog, or do much writing in general. I’ve been hit by a bout of spring cleaning fever and have been clearing out wardrobes and cupboards, re-organising shelves, defrosting freezers and generally being a domestic goddess. Without the nice pinny or good manners. Hmm, more of a domestic biarch I guess.

Any-hoo,  I reckon once I’m finished with all the spring cleaning madness I might just get a little more organised on the writing side of things.

Stay tuned, I might be back to torment you soon.



Time on my hands


My current project: the colours are a bit light … the purple’s much deeper than this and the new (a week ago) carpet is actually dark grey

There’s one side effect of having a dicky ticker I didn’t anticipate: time.

You see, I used to work too many hours but when I got the diagnosis, I decided that I needed to take back control and stop working 60 or more hours a week. Now, I work a respectable 40 hours. Sometimes up to 45, but no more than that.

And because of that, I actually have time on my hands:  I have time to sit down a watch some telly in the evenings, to go for walks, to read more and generally relax. And that whole relaxing thing is hard work! I’m not so good at just sitting and watching a movie, so this has been the perfect time to take up knitting again.

How’s that for living life on the edge?

Any-hoo, the photo above is of my latest project, a winter wrap. It’s getting a bit on the hard to handle side now because it’s so long but I should have it finished soon and in the meantime, Seymour the Wonder Cat has taken a liking to trying to hide under it while I knit. Which makes Norman the Other Cat a bit nervous, since she tends to sleep beside me when I’m knitting.


I picked up my knitting needles for the first time in nearly a couple of decades a few months ago and managed to make this without going totally insane.




Jillian "George" Allison-Aitken

I live in the deep south of New Zealand, where smelly dairy cows are taking over from sheep in the livestock stakes. My hometown is the small but perfectly formed city of Invercargill, which is also the hometown of the original boy racer, Burt Munro. Find out more about me here.


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