The weather around here just can't decide what it wants to do; today it was (mostly) cloudy, but started off intensely sunny before moving into partly cloudy, and then totally cloudy by mid-afternoon, to the point where they are calling for a smattering of rain tonight (the garden certainly wouldn't complain). I figured it would rain, as I chose this morning to do laundry, and if there's one thing I've learned on this trip it's every time I decide to do laundry it clouds over and rains... Carolyn + laundry = good weather's kryptonite.
Thankfully, however, I was able to get my load of wash through the machine and hung up on the line without any water falling from the sky. I was just hanging the last of it out to dry when three visitors arrived here at the house; two men to fix the leaky water tap in the bathroom (mom, dad, should I send them up to Canada next to fix the kitchen sink?), and a woman named Debbie who has been coming once a week to vacuum and clean. Debbie was very talkative, and especially complimentary when she found out I was from Canada, as her son is an electrician who is currently working there (I don't think she really understands how big Canada is, however; when I asked if he was in British Columbia, she said, "Oh, yeah, maybe, he said he was going to drive to Niagara Falls for a day at Christmas".... ).
I spent the rest of the morning attempting to organize the upcoming week (this time next week I'll be hiking the Heaphy Track!); I booked the bus to Wellington, the ferry to Picton, and accommodation overnight in Picton. I also e-mailed Sally, the woman whose family I am doing the hike with, and she got back to me later this evening saying all systems go, so I'm feeling a bit more at ease with things. Now to begin the task of packing; I've already started sorting things into three piles: a) Definitely Not Taking, b) Definitely Taking, and c) Maybe Taking. Thankfully the "Definitely Not Taking" is the largest pile (so far).
My Christmas card from Grandma Wright arrived today! Thank you, Grandma, it was a very nice card, and I miss you, too. I enjoyed your letter, and I read it aloud to Fay. She says you are a very kind and outgoing person, which I think she meant literally because she was referring to you and mom attending Palm Court Orchestra and Victoria Symphony concerts. And don't worry, if I can make it through a midnight eucharist communion mass, you can make it through a Baptist Christmas service. :-)
This afternoon Frank and I went into town to buy groceries, and I managed to mystify him by unlocking the trunk and putting the bags inside before he had even come out of the supermarket with the keys: my skinny arms were able to fit down the gap between the partially-opened window and doorframe, unlock the door, and then open the trunk... but I let him sweat it for a few seconds that he had left the car unlocked. I likely shouldn't play such mind games with an 86-year-old man, but he seems to like my sense of humour.
I opted to remain in town while Frank returned home so I could go to the bank, and then over to Kathmandu to purchase a footprint for my tent so I don't end up sleeping on a damp floor. Walking back to Maraenui didn't seem to take as long as it has previously; I suppose that's because I now have a pretty good idea of the layout of roads in Napier and know where I'm going.
Late in the afternoon I phoned Ron; it's his birthday today. (Earlier I phoned the rail shop and ended up talking to Brian, which was an unexpected but pleasant surprise, and then phoned Dee, and we had a nice chat as well.) Wanting to commemorate the momentous occasion of turning forty, I could think of no better card to epitomize maturity than one featuring Thomas the Tank Engine. I suppose I should feel bad, but seeing as my parents got me a Thomas card for my 25th this year I had to inflict one upon someone else celebrating a milestone birthday. We had a good long conversation (how I love phone cards) and it was nice to catch up on all the news from the museum and talk trains with someone who doesn't think I'm slightly insane for liking them as I do.
I helped make dinner this evening; lamb sausages, scalloped potatoes, corn and peas with mint (mint peas? Who would have thought that would work?) and fresh new potatoes from the garden. After dinner we all sat around the kitchen table, talking, and I showed Fay and Frank a few videos on my computer, including one I made of the Fletcher kids all hunting for chocolate in the Ellison's basement during Easter 2007. Fay remarked, "You'd never be lonely, having that thing with you all the time; all the memories it can hold." She is partly right; while I do still get lonely, it is true that the videos and pictures on my computer can help to cheer me up and remind me of good times in the past.
It's off to bed for me now... the wind is picking up again, so I may be in for another night of the shrub slamming into the window by my head. Yippee... night!