Monday, January 24, 2011

Opium Factories and Monkey Puzzles

Waking up at 7am today, I actually felt hungry, and looking forward to breakfast. It was such a nice change from the last few days! I started out by watering Rosemarie’s collection of potted plants on the veranda with the mist setting on the hose, which turned into more of a soaking of my feet and pants than the soil of the plants. After that, Rosemarie set me to the task of carting a wagon around the garden and snipping off all the poppyseed, granny bonnet, and honesty seed heads, uprooting the plants for the compost, and carrying the seed heads over to a table to sort the seeds into bowls. With the number of poppy seeds I collected today, I figured we could probably have a nice opium production set-up running next year. I suggested we go on a trip to Afghanistan to learn the trade, but as Howard remarked, “Well, I don’t think they’d take kindly to us as Brits, and my Russian accent isn’t that convincing...”

As I was carting the wagon around (which, incidentally, is almost identical to the green wagons at the museum; too bad there aren’t any hills around here!), I kept finding rosebushes hidden around the garden; struggling for sunlight under bushes, spreading out in clumps low to the ground, or growing wild and untamed, six feet tall above my head. I suppose it’s nice to find such plants amid the weeds, but the scratches on my fingers from my previous encounters with thorns remind me that I’ll be doing battle with them later, armed only with a pair of pruning shears!

I also found a small monkey puzzle, almost completely buried under old shoots of honesty. I was so surprised I called Thibaud over to show him, and then later Rosemarie; she didn’t even know they had one! It reminded me of a smaller version of our ill-fated monkey puzzle tree at home on the front lawn that Arthur and I used to leap-frog over (a rather painful experience if one didn’t clear it completely). For you Eddie Izzard fans, this also led to several instances throughout the day where I said, "Et, le singe est sur la branche!"

After lunch (featuring Howard’s homemade bread from the breadmaker), we watched the pilot episode of Knight Rider that Howard had recorded off the television the evening before. Oh yes, the original 1982 Knight Rider, with David Hasselhoff, “before”, as Rosemarie puts it, “he got a big head”. While I don’t know much about “The Hoff”, having never been a Baywatch fan, I did enjoy the program, and not just for the big hair and pastel clothing. It was intriguing to see the mystique of Silicon Valley and the computer through an 80s lens; the idea that microprocessors could be capable of miraculous feats of AI, and that the technology corporations were the new superpowers of the world economy. I suppose the latter is mostly true, but I haven’t seen any microprocessors capable of creating a car as amazing as KITT in the Pontiac Trans Am.

My afternoon was spent reading Dune, and briefly helping Howard in the garage rig up a reel so he could spread reflective silver tarp up near the roof, helping to repel the heat and keep the garage cool (apparently the roof reaches 50ºC during midday). For dinner we made Spaghetti Bolognese, which I thoroughly enjoyed; as Howard commented, “Ah, the [bottomless] pit has returned!” I wasn’t feeling particularly ravenous, but it was nice to have a normal appetite again.

After dinner we enjoyed pavlova with boysenberries and strawberries and whipped cream, and then I entertained Thibaud by showing him photos of Queenstown and Milford Sound on my computer (he is going to be heading there next to WWOOF). I also amused Howard by showing him this diagram -

- which apparently is only funny if one likes computers, because Thibaud and Rosemarie didn’t really get it, and these two videos: the Mac Rant and Microsoft Designs the iPod Packaging.

Now it is 10pm, and I’m surprisingly tired (I guess it’s a result of still not being 100% better). I’m off for a shower and bed, and hopefully no more dreams about living in residence; for the last two days I have dreamt that I am attending university and living in dorms! Night!


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